2009 (STAR) By Paolo Romero - Malacañang yesterday downplayed reports that some of the key allies of Lakas-Kampi-CMD in local governments have defected to rival parties, saying the exodus is expected and beneficial to the ruling party.

“True, there have been defections among local officials and there may even be more, but these are natural and expected consequences of party intramurals and fallouts from the party’s selection process for local candidates,” said Gabriel Claudio, presidential adviser for political affairs and Lakas secretary-general.

He said party members not chosen to be an official candidate in the 2010 elections “will naturally seek shelter with other political parties or other presidential bets.”

He said the defections will make it easier for Lakas to select candidates for local positions.

“So what is there to gloat about?” Claudio said. “I would like to call this arbitration by attrition.”

He said the defections will enable the party to create a solid slate.

“The positive result of these defections is that the administration party will have a single, solid and formidable lineup of candidates at the local level who will not be distracted by internal conflicts and therefore better able to concentrate on helping the administration’s national candidates win in their respective areas,” he said.

“As in a boxing match, Lakas-Kampi-CMD is shedding off excess weight and will enter the ring leaner, meaner and in its best fighting form,” he added.

He, however, said many reported defections are either “erroneous or grossly out of perspective.”

He said Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and Cavite Gov. Erineo Maliksi could not have bolted from Lakas because they have never been members of the ruling party.

Claudio said President Arroyo will preside over the Lakas-Kampi-CMD national executive committee meeting at the Palace on Wednesday where she will formally resign as chairman and finalize the agenda of its national convention on Nov. 19.

GMA can run for lower post, say Senate allies (The Philippine Star) Updated November 09, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Two pro-administration senators see no legal obstacle for President Arroyo to run for Congress in next year’s elections.

Sen. Joker Arroyo and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago believe that Mrs. Arroyo can run for another elective office, except the presidency.

However, Senator Arroyo said it “would be very demeaning” for Mrs. Arroyo to seek a post lower than the presidency.

“Very demeaning,” he said. “Why should you run? I agree with that 100 percent. Why run when you have already become president?”

On the other hand, Santiago said running for Congress and aiming to become speaker should not be seen as a demotion for Mrs. Arroyo.

“So from the head of the executive branch, she will be head of at least half of the legislative branch of government which is not such a demotion, she just changed the branch of government she is serving,” she said.

Speaking over radio station dzBB, Senator Arroyo said no law prevents Mrs. Arroyo from seeking a seat in the House of Representatives.

“She can run for any position,” he said.

“There is no provision. Bakit ba tayo nag aaksaya ng panahon discussing her when she is not running for president. There is no prohibition, she can run.”

Senator Arroyo criticized presidential aspirants for using Mrs. Arroyo as a “stepping board” to launch their presidential bids.

“I am wondering why the candidates, except (Defense Secretary) Gilbert (Teodoro), are concentrated on attacking her,” he said.

“They are wasting time hitting and hitting her when she is not seeking re-election. Instead, they should hit each other (over issues).”

Speaking on the same radio program, Santiago said she believes Mrs. Arroyo is geared to run for a congressional seat representing Lubao, Pampanga, and that she plans to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives.

“I am afraid there is no other reason,” she said.

“What other possible reason can you have for going so many times to a certain municipality when you are already supported by the greater majority of the people for being a native daughter.

“I am afraid that all roads lead to Lubao Pampanga, as far as President Arroyo is concerned.” – Christina Mendez

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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