NPC MAINTAINS COALITION WITH RULING LAKAS PARTY

MANILA, November 15, 2003  (MALAYA) By DENNIS GADIL - The National People's Coalition (NPC) has decided to maintain its coalition with the ruling Lakas party, ensuring Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr.'s leadership.

The NPC bloc reached the decision in a party caucus held Thursday night with at least 45 NPC members in attendance.

This ended speculations the party would severe ties from the Lakas-led "sunshine coalition" after colliding with the administration party on the impeachment try against Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr.

The 63-man NPC is the second biggest party in the House and played a crucial role in handing to De Venecia his third speakership after taking a three-year hiatus when he lost in the 1998 presidential elections.

The NPC likewise elected Rep. Alfredo Maranon of Negros Occidental as new head of the NPC bloc at the House, replacing Rep. Gilberto Teodoro of Tarlac who resigned to concentrate, he said, "on other important undertakings."

Teodoro, along with Rep. Felix William Fuentebella of Camarines Sur, spearheaded the move to impeach Davide for his alleged misuse of the Judiciary Development Fund. The complaint was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on Monday.

NPC spokesman Francis Escudero (Sorsogon) said Teodoro chose to resign to separate his being a nephew of businessman Eduardo "Dan-ding" Cojuangco, NPC chair-man emeritus, from the ad-vocacies of the party such as the aborted impeachment case against Davide.

Escudero said because of his closeness to Cojuangco, Teodoro's actions and decisions on party matters are often misconstrued as having the blessings of Cojuangco.

"To finally clear this matter (mis-impression), the party has to accept his resignation," Escudero said.

Rep. Harry Angping (Manila) said the decision to keep the NPC-Lakas alliance in the House intact was not final and would continue to be under "serious review" even under the Maranon leadership.

Maranon is the most senior party stalwart in the House and heads the House committee on agriculture, food and fisheries. He bested two other choices, NPC Reps. Julio Ledesma of Negros Occidental and Zenaida Ducut of Pampanga).


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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