TARLAC CITY,  May 29, 2004
By Benjie Villa  —  There is now intense bickering within the local leadership of the administration’s Lakas-CMD (Christian-Muslim Democrats).

On one hand, this city’s re-elected mayor, Genaro Mendoza, who chairs the ruling party in Tarlac’s second congressional district, has been accused of abandoning President Arroyo in the last minute to the May 10 elections, purportedly in favor of actor Fernando Poe Jr., standard bearer of the opposition Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP).

Some mediamen earlier learned that Malacañang was told about the allegations against Mendoza, and that sanctions were reportedly being readied against the mayor in the event that Mrs. Arroyo is proclaimed.

For his part, Mendoza has accused Lakas-CMD’s losing gubernatorial candidate here, outgoing ex-officio board member Isaias Apostol, of spreading the "black propaganda" against him.

Apostol, the administration party’s provincial chairman, lost in his bid to challenge the re-election of Gov. Jose Yap, the provincial head of business tycoon Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco Jr.’s Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).

Yap garnered an overwhelming 309,628 votes in the polls, while Apostol only got a measly 69,978.

Mendoza said Apostol was merely "sour-graping," recounting that during the miting de avance of the city’s Lakas-CMD slate at the Ninoy Aquino Plazuela here, the defeated gubernatorial aspirant was publicly turned away.

The mayor’s camp announced during the campaign rally that it was supporting Yap’s bid for a third and last term.

Mendoza confirmed that he, indeed, supported Yap, but he denied that he ditched President Arroyo in his campaign.

But some local KNP leaders are themselves offering proof that Mendoza allegedly went for Poe in the polls.

Apostol’s provincial slate was then regarded as a "splinter" of the Lakas-CMD, as the NPC earlier reaffirmed its alliance with the pro-administration party.

It was while House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. was setting up Lakas-CMD’s alliance with the NPC when Apostol was able to secure from former Justice Secretary Hernani Perez and presidential liaison on political affairs Joey Rufino an endorsement for him to challenge Yap.

Perez and Rufino are Lakas-CMD’s secretary-general and executive director, respectively.

Despite this, Yap still campaigned for Mrs. Arroyo.

Nearly all of the 17 mayoral candidates put up by Apostol in the province against those of the NPC were defeated, except in the towns of Ramos and Capas.

In the provincial board, only Lakas-CMD candidate Dan David won, while the rest of the 10 board seats went to those allied with the NPC.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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