Gov. Dominguez joins LP

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/16 July) — Sarangani Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez has officially left Lakas-Kampi and joined the Liberal Party in June ending years of courtship by budget secretary Florencio Abad.

Dominguez briefly held the presidency of Lakas-Kampi when he was appointed by former defense secretary and then party chair Gilbert Teodoro.

Teodoro was the standard bearer of Lakas-Kampi, which has since lost its dominance in Philippine politics, during the 2010 presidential election.

Dominguez, then only 34, became the youngest politician from Mindanao to ever head a major political party.  He was instrumental in the nomination of Teodoro who was locked in a race for the choice of Lakas-Kampi’s presidential bet with former vice president Noli de Castro.

Now on the third and last of his three 3-year term as governor of the poverty-stricken province of Sarangani, Dominguez however resigned as party head when Teodoro quit as Lakas-Kampi chair to concentrate on his presidential bid.

Party insiders said intra-party squabbling wrought irreparable damage to the presidential campaign of Teodoro.   Cebu Lakas-Kampi stalwarts revealed former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo reportedly called up several party members to instead support the failed presidential bid of rival Manuel Villar.

This reportedly was the real reason why both Dominguez and Teodoro quit as party president and chair, respectively.

Dominguez said as early as 2006, he was already being courted by Abad, then party secretary general, to join the Liberal Party through a mutual lawyer-friend.  Abad would often drop by the residence of Dominguez in Alabel, Sarangani to have dinner.

Shortly after the 2010 presidential election when President Benigno Aquino III won as an LP candidate, the governor stopped joining meetings of Lakas-Kampi and also quit the local political party Sarangani Reconciliation and Reformation Organization (SARRO).

He said he was party-less as early as the post-2010 elections until joining the LP last month.

News of his joining the LP was kept under wraps but it was believed he took his oath as party member shortly before leaving for Hawaii in early June to attend the wedding of his younger sister Cecil.

In 2004 Dominguez ran as a 27-year old candidate against former governor Miguel Escobar.

He campaigned under the banner of anti-corruption and good governance and won handily over the fund scandal-wracked Escobar administration, becoming the youngest elected governor in Mindanao.

Dominguez is reportedly eyeing a seat in the House of Representatives next year after he and Rep. Manny Pacquiao agreed to swap positions in next year’s elections.

It was not clear how Dominguez’ membership with the Liberal Party would affect the earlier political alliance between him and Pacquiao who joined the PDP-Laban two months ago.

PDP-Laban, which is headed by Vice President Jejomar Binay, has allied with former president Joseph Estrada’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino to form the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

UNA is reportedly fielding a full senatorial slate in next year’s mid-term elections against the Liberal Party and its allied parties. (Edwin G. Espejo/MindaNews)