MANILA: A congressman-nephew of former first lady Imelda Marcos has been elected the new chief of the once dominant political party of then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who is under hospital arrest for the non-bailable charge of plunder.
Party officials reported that Congressman Ferdinand Martin Romualdez of Leyte province in the Visayas in Central Philippines was elected the new president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats.
Lakas officials added that Romualdez, the nephew of Imelda Marcos also a congresswoman for Ilocos Norte province in Northern Luzon, replaced Senator Ramon Revilla Junior who became the party chairman and reportedly the party’s choice as their standard bearer in the May 2016 presidential elections.
Lakas which dominated the country’s political landscape during Arroyo’s nine-year rule has been badly decimated with its members reduced to about 30 in the House of Representatives due to defections of many of its leaders to the other political parties.
Such is the sad state of the party that one of its senior officials Congressman Danilo Suarez of Quezon province in Southern Luzon, the House minority leader, admitted that Lakas candidates would not join the senatorial race in the coming May 10 midterm polls.
Instead, Suarez said Lakas opted to support at least five senatorial candidates each from the ruling Liberal Party of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino and a new political group called the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) founded by Vice President Jejomar Binay, former president Joseph Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
This early, the new Lakas leaders apparently are determined to distance themselves from Arroyo, the party’s chairmen emeritus along with former president Fidel Ramos.
Revilla acknowledged that Arroyo is the Lakas official candidate in her reelection bid as congresswoman for her home province of Pampanga in Central Luzon in the coming May polls.
But Revilla stressed that Arroyo would have little say in party affairs with the new Lakas executive committee empowered to make major decisions, saying: “The chairmen emeritus are the elders but they won’t meddle in the party’s decision.”
Arroyo is under hospital arrest in a government medical facility in Metro Manila on orders of a special court called the Sandiganbayan where she was indicted for plunder which is non-bailable and also carries the maximum penalty of life imprisonment.