MANILA,  May 21, 2004
By Jess Diaz  -  Independent opposition presidential candidate Sen. Panfilo Lacson and his allies, who now consider themselves resigned from the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP), are planning to form a new political party.

They are meeting this weekend to discuss the plan.

Another option for the group is to join an existing mainstream political party, according to Lito Banayo, Lacson’s spokesman and political strategist.

This weekend’s meeting will be attended by Lacson, House Minority Leader Carlos Padilla, who was his lone senatorial candidate, Makati Rep. Agapito Aquino and Iloilo Rep. Rolex Suplico.

Aquino was one of the founders of the LDP, which was formed shortly after his sister-in-law, Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, was swept to power as president in 1986. He was the party’s secretary-general until he joined Lacson in giving up their LDP membership two weeks ago.

The party is headed by Sen. Edgardo Angara, who claims that Lacson and his group did not resign but were expelled.

The LDP was divided into two camps when Angara and Sen. Vicente Sotto III, who is the party’s executive vice president, dumped Lacson and supported the presidential bid of movie actor Fernando Poe Jr.

Angara even formed the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino to serve as Poe’s political vehicle for his quest for the presidency.

The bitter quarrel between the two camps even reached the Supreme Court, which had ruled that Angara’s group is the "rightful LDP faction."

Toward the end of the election campaign, Lacson urged Poe to get rid of Angara in his camp before they could discuss unification.

Lacson said the LDP "is now effectively a dead party" since it will have only one member in the Senate and another in the House of Representatives.

He was referring to Angara and his son Juan Eduardo, who won as congressman in Aurora. Angara’s sister, outgoing Rep. Bellaflor Angara Castillo, is incoming governor of the province.

"With our resignation, LDP will now just be a family affair," said Lacson.

The group of the former Philippine National Police chief has not only abandoned their political party but has been raiding its ranks.

Aquino said he has been talking to LDP members who won congressional and local seats to sound them out on their plan to form a new group.

"We are asking our members if they want to stay in the party or join us," he said.

Several other congressmen were with Lacson when he launched his candidacy early this year but have abandoned him and joined other parties for political expediency.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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