Lanao LP ‘originals’ sign up with UNA

TWENTY-SEVEN original members of the ruling Liberal Party in Lanao del Norte have jumped ship to join the United Nationalist Alliance on the eve of the filing of certificates of candidacy for the 2016 elections, the opposition group UNA said Sunday.

The Lanao del Norte politicians—including two congressmen—joined 23 other LP members, mostly incumbent officials from Batanes and 12 LP officials from Bulacan who joined UNA on Sept. 14.

Pantao Ragat Mayor Eleanor Dimaporo-Lantud, who is running for governor, brought the 27 LP members to UNA a day after they said they were shabbily treated by LP officials at the Balay headquarters in Cubao, Quezon City.

“[On Thursday], we were at Balay headquarters of the Liberal Party. They just passed by us like they don’t know us. Like they did not see us. The true character of LP people showed,” Dimaporo-Lantud said.

“The users in them showed. They have been using us since 2010 and 2013. They don’t know how to pay their debt of honor,” she said in Filipino. “And now, they acted as if they did not know us.”

The 23 Batanes officials who shifted allegiance to UNA were led by Gov. Vicente Gato and Nicanor Abad, elder brother of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.

Batanes is the home province of the budget secretary, a stalwart of the Liberal Party.

 Gato ran and won under LP in the 2013 elections.

Nicanor will be slugging it out with his sister-in-law and Abad’s wife Henedina, incumbent representative of the lone district of Batanes, in the 2016 polls.

Dimaporo-Lantud said the LP was aware of the LP originals in Lanao del Norte but gave preference to the newcomers.

“They brought in newcomers like Gov. Khalid Dimaporo, who is the nephew of my first cousin, but they did not recognize us as being original LP members in Lanao del Norte. That hurts,” she added.

Dimaporo-Lantud singled out one LP official, whom she identified only as “Congresswoman Chato” that she described as being particularly rude to them, walking away when they had not finished speaking.

For this reason, she said, they took their oath as new UNA members before Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Others who jumped ship to UNA were Munai Mayor Muammar Maquiling, representative of District 1; Balo-i Mayor Hanifa Ali, representative of District 2; and 24 other provincial candidates.

They all won in the 2010 and 2013 elections under the LP banner.

Dimaporo-Lantud also mocked the administration’s “matuwid na daan” or straight path, saying it was actually crooked.

Dimaporo-Lantud is the daughter of the late Caromatan Mayor Sultan Naga Dimaporo, brother of the late congressman Mohammad Ali Dimaporo.

 She told Binay that she and other Liberal members in Lanao went to LP’s headquarters but were given the cold shoulder.

 Dimaporo-Lantud would likely be running against Rep. Imelda Dimaporo, wife of her cousin Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo of the province’s 2nd District.

Khalid is serving his third and last office term as Lanao del Norte governor.

At the same ceremony Friday, Binay also swore in 12 new UNA officials from Bulacan, led by San Miguel Mayor Roderick Tiongson.

 Tiongson also ran and won under LP in the 2013 elections.

“This is a big deal, especially with Secretary Butch Abad’s joining us,” Binay said after the oathtaking.

Binay is the chairman of UNA and the party’s standard bearer in the 2016 elections.

He said the defections were a victory for UNA in Batanes, which has been a bulwark of the LP.

“The people we swore in today were not with us in the past. Now they are. That’s a big deal, isn’t it?” Binay added.

Binay also said there were LP members who sent feelers about joining UNA, but they still had reservations because fear still prevailed.

He added he believed more incumbent officials would take their oath and join UNA in the coming days.

Nicanor Abad said majority of the incumbent officials in Batanes are now with the opposition. With Macon Ramos-Araneta

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