Cordillera Region, April 28, 2003 By Jess Diaz The Philippine Star - The Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP), the biggest among several opposition parties, has started revitalizing itself in preparation for next year’s combined presidential, congressional and local elections.

LDP officials led by Senators Edgardo Angara and Teresa Aquino-Oreta met with party leaders in the Cordillera region over the weekend to discuss plans for 2004. Angara heads the party.

Oreta said their party "is preparing for next year’s electoral battle and is reenergizing ranks to ensure its victory."

She said they are proceeding on the assumption that President Arroyo won’t break her promise last December not to run in 2004.

She said she hopes that Mrs. Arroyo sticks to her commitment despite incessant prodding from political allies that she take back her word and run next year.

The President’s promise should pave the way for sweeping reforms in her administration and for a new Cabinet revamp that should revitalize the national leadership, she added.

During the weekend meeting in the Cordillera region, Angara swore in party chairmen for Ifugao, Kalinga, Apayao, Mt. Province and Abra.

LDP and other opposition groups, including ousted President Joseph Estrada’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), are expected to field a common candidate for president in next year’s elections.

Angara has said he won’t seek the presidency in the 2004 polls. There is so far only one declared candidate in the opposition ranks: Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who belongs to Angara’s LDP.

Lacson has claimed that the PMP has adopted him as its candidate for president. PMP officials led by Estrada’s agrarian reform secretary, Horacio Morales, and his Philippine Tourism Authority head, Lito Banayo, are working for the opposition senator.

LDP congressmen led by House Minority Leader Carlos Padilla want Angara to support Lacson’s presidential bid. They said there is no other candidate, since Angara has given up his quest for the top post.

The LDP president has so far been non-committal. He wants that the opposition standard bearer should be chosen through a nomination process that should attract other aspirants.

Estrada has not given his blessing to Lacson, who was his favorite policeman and chief of the Philippine National Police during his short-lived administration. The deposed president is still hoping that his close friend, actor Fernando Poe Jr., who has expressed disinterest in the presidency, would change his mind.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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