DANDING'S PARTY MAY SUPPORT LACSON BID   

Manila, March 5, 2003 -- The Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) might turn to Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson as its guest standard bearer in 2004 should NPC chair emeritus Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco decline a shot at the presidency in 2004, an NPC member said yesterday.

Lanao del Sur Rep. Benasing Macarambon, NPC member, said some of his NPC colleagues are Lacson believers who see the senator as qualified for the presidency.

But he made it clear that a Lacson draft is just one of the many possibilities, noting that Cojuangco has yet to categorically decline the challenge of carrying the NPC banner in 2004.

Lacson is identified with the opposition Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) which is headed by Sen. Edgardo Angara.

LDP members led by Reps. Gilbert Remulla (Cavite) and Rolex Suplico (Iloilo) are said to be battling for Lacson as party bet.

Macarambon nevertheless said that NPC members in the House are still hopeful that Cojuangco could be persuaded to run.

Lakas Rep. Jacinto Paras (Negros Oriental) said Cojuangco will still have the final say on who will be endorsed by the party.

Paras is behind the move of some 50 Lakas congressmen to draft the NPC chief as guest candidate. Cojuangco has so far turned down the proposal but indicated he will run only if there is a strong clamor from the grassroots.

"I'm positive Danding will run," Paras said.

He said that his group might abandon Lakas if the party chooses another candidate in 2004. He also noted that at least five congressmen from the LDP will join their group in pushing for Cojuangco as common candidate of Lakas and LDP.

Lakas Rep. Prospero Nograles (Davao City), one of the pro-Danding solons, said that the NPC-Lakas alliance in the House would collapse should NPC go for Lacson in 2004.

Currently, Lakas is scouting for a stronger candidate from outside the party as party leaders and supporters admit that the party lacks a strong candidate after President Arroyo announced she is not running in 2004.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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