Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Kapatiran party opens door to Puno

The party is ready but is the presidential prospect up for the challenge?

Ang Kapatiran (Alliance for the Common Good), the four-year-old political party campaigning under the banner of “God-centered” politics, opened its doors on Sunday to Chief Justice Reynato Puno amid mounting calls for him to seek the presidency in 2010.

Nandy Pacheco, party founder, said he had been receiving calls from supporters urging the party leadership to begin serious talks with Puno, since the possibility of his candidacy came out last week.

“The vessel is ready,” Pacheco told the Philippine Daily Inquirer

“But we don’t want to put any pressure on the Chief Justice. It will still be his decision. We just want to let him know that he’s most welcome in our party,” he added.

Asked about the idea of a Puno candidacy, Anthony Golez, deputy presidential spokesperson, said in Filipino: “It’s the right of every Filipino to have an ambition or dream of becoming president of our country.”

“We wish them well and we wish them luck,” he said in an interview with government radio station dzRB.

Puno, who is said to be the subject of an impeachment complaint, continues to ward off demands that he run for president, which came after he called on religious leaders to act as a concrete “moral force” in Philippine society.

Last Saturday, a bishop of the Iglesia Catolica Filipina Independiente launched a signature campaign aimed at convincing Puno to accept the challenge. Bishop Nilo Tayag said Puno was the embodiment of “what is not a traditional politician.”

Pacheco, whose party is also averse to the ways of traditional politics, said Puno was not exactly a stranger to the principles of Ang Kapatiran, a party put up by a group of Catholic professionals.

A few months ago, he said he bumped into the chief magistrate at a social event, during which Puno was shown a copy of the Kapatiran’s vision and principles. Pacheco said members usually carried a “scroll” containing information about the party.

“He said he liked the idea especially of our campaign for a God-centered politics,” he recalled. “I have a very strong feeling that he subscribes to all of our principles.”

The party, for instance, declares that it would “dismantle the social structures that glorify sex and pornography, dishonesty, vice, materialism and hedonism, and replace them with structures of virtue, peace, responsibility and achievement.”

It also seeks to “apply to everyone the Constitutional ban against relatives of incumbent government officials up to the third degree from seeking public office simultaneously or succeeding the former, and to make it unlawful for any member of the Senate or the House of Representatives to run for another office without first resigning from his/her position six months before the elections.”

“We want to have a Kapatiran House, a Kapatiran Senate, and a Kapatiran president,” Pacheco said.

He said the idea of Puno as president came at a time when the party had began recruiting “from bottom to top” for possible candidates in 2010.

“Many will be called, but few will be chosen,” he said, borrowing a line from the Bible.

In the 2007 senatorial elections, Kapatiran fielded three candidates—Martin Bautista, Jesus Zosimo Paredes, and Adrian Sison—but none of them came close to winning a seat dominated by much more popular and moneyed politicians.

Its lone winner was John Carlos de los Reyes, who ran for councilor in Olongapo City. By Christian V. Esguerra - Philippine Daily Inquirer

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