Press Release
May 25, 2009

Zubiri: All administration contenders to undergo selection process

In searching for its standard bearer, the ruling coalition will give premium not just to survey ratings but also to integrity and the ability of the candidate to lead the nation and to bring about the changes that the people want, Lakas Secretary General Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said today.

Zubiri made the statement as he clarified that there is no truth to speculations that the administration party is already inclined to support a particular candidate as its official bet in 2010.

"The issue as to who our standard bearer would be is not for party leaders to decide exclusively. There will be a process and it includes the entire membership of the coalition," Zubiri said.

"Survey ratings are important but I still think our search should give more weight to a candidate's competence, integrity, and acceptability among the people as the next leader of this country," he added.

To date Zubiri said party leaders are firming up details of the impending merger between two of the country's biggest political groups, Lakas and Kampi, before the actual selection process for the administration's official bet begins.

The merger, according to Zubiri, will solidify the ranks of the ruling coalition in the next year's polls and significantly increase the chances of its standard bearer in winning the presidential derby in the face of a divided opposition.

On Thursday, the first meeting of the national executive board between Lakas and Kampi will take place and two of the party's rumoured frontrunners - Defense Sec. Gilbert "Gibo" Teodoro and Vice President Noli De Castro - have been invited as observers.

While the bids of other known presidential hopefuls seeking the ruling party's endorsement are still being considered, Zubiri said adding early indications are that the nomination for administration's bet would be a toss-up between Teodoro who enjoys the party members' support and De Castro who has much better ratings.

"The vice president's consistent showing in recent poll ratings is of prime consideration among party leaders. But Secretary Teodoro's known competence, qualifications and track record as a three-term congressman and the country's youngest defense chief are also being weighed carefully, Zubiri explained.

"Without pre-empting the scheduled selection process, I must say both Vice President De Castro and Secretary Teodoro are enjoying slight advantage among other presidential hopefuls within the administration coalition," he said.

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