CEBU CITY - President Benigno Aquino III welcomed on Saturday Danao City Vice Mayor Ramon “Nito” Durano III into the Liberal Party (LP) and promised to support lawyer Hilario Davide III and Agnes Magpale for Cebu governor and vice governor in the 2013 elections.
Durano took his oath of office as a member of the LP after the signing of the coalition agreement between LP and Barug Alang sa Kauswagan ug Demokrasya (Bakud), a political party in Cebu’s fifth congressional district.
The agreement was signed by Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) Secretary Mar Roxas as LP president and Representative Ramon “Red” Durano VI, Nito’s son, as the new Bakud chair.
Among the witnesses were Senator Franklin Drilon, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, LP Secretary General Joseph Emilio Abaya, Energy Secretary Rene Almendras, Davide, Magpale and local leaders.
Aquino said his administration needs more Cebuano leaders and commended Almendras, a former business executive who hails from Cebu, for helping him realize his campaign promise to provide electricity to thousands of sitios.
“Mararagdagan ang ating kasangga kapag tayo’y manliligaw na dito sa Cebu sa susunod na halalan (We will attract more allies once we campaign in Cebu in the 2013 elections),” Aquino said.
With the signing of the LP-Bakud agreement, Nito Durano said he is optimistic that Davide and Magpale will win the top offices of the Capitol in May 2013.
“We know the importance of having good partners in the local level. We are lucky with the coalition of Liberal Party and Bakud, whose leaders we believe can accelerate the direction of Cebu,” the president said.
Nito, who celebrated his birthday Saturday, said he never expected that the President of the Philippines would be his guest during his celebration.
“This is a historic event in the Province of Cebu,” Nito said.
He said that since Bakud was formed in 2001, it has held up its end in agreements and alliances with other political parties and politicians.
“We give you this firm assurance of fidelity and hard work. With this LP-Bakud coalition, the resounding victory of Davide and Magpale in the coming 2013 election is already assured in the fifth district,” Nito said.
“We in Bakud are proud to work with LP to help President Aquino in realizing his 16-point agenda for the good of the Filipino people,” the former district congressman added.
Only Nito took his oath as LP member and he will represent all the Bakud members in the coalition.
In an interview later, he told the media that Bakud’s coalition with One Cebu in the 2010 election was limited to Governor Gwendolyn Garcia.
Nito said that last March, the governor invited him to a dinner where she requested extending the coalition in the 2013 elections. But Nito said he refused and told Gwen that such an arrangement would be difficult because Magpale’s brother, Energy Secretary Rene Almendras, is close to President Aquino.
The governor had supported presidential candidate Gilberto Teodoro Jr. in the May 2010 elections.
Since the meeting last March, Nito said, Governor Garcia no longer communicated with him and neither her brother, Representative Pablo John Garcia, whom One Cebu is fielding for governor next year.
Governor Garcia, who is running for the Senate next year, has already taken oath with the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) led by Vice President Jejomar Binay.
President Aquino’s move stands in contrast to that of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who allied herself with incumbent leaders of Cebu Province from 2004 to 2010. (EOB of Sun.Star Cebu)