Press Release
March 2, 2006

GMA, JDV accused of trying to hijack Liberal Party to support 1017, Cha-Cha

Senate President Franklin Drilon today accused President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of allegedly attempting to hijack the Liberal Party through an illegal national assembly organized by known Arroyo-henchman Manila Mayor Lito Atienza under the guise of conference of local autonomy and government decentralization.

Former Camiguin Governor Antonio Gallardo, Drilons chief of staff, said President Arroyo and House Speaker Jose De Venecia were employing Atienza to implement unscrupulous and underhanded tactics, including outlandish promises of more pork barrel funds into forcing the Liberal Party to support the fledging Arroyo administration, Proclamation 1017 and the Charter Change campaign of the ruling Lakas-CMD party.

In a radio interview this morning, Atienza announced he was convening a national assembly of LP leaders that would replace Drilon as party president as a punishment for leading the party in calling for President Arroyos resignation last July.

The national convention, Atienza said, will be held after Manila LP leaders conduct a roundtable discussion on "New and Emerging Trends and Best Practices in Local Governance" at the Manila Hotel this morning.

Gallardo said under the LP Constitution, only Drilon, as party president, has the authority to convene the party National Executive Council (NECO) that has the power to elect new party officers.

As party chairman, Gallardo explained, Atienza was a mere titular head of the party and his powers were merely ceremonial.

Mayor Atienza is violating the LP constitution if he will insist on convening the LP NECO with the intention of ousting Drilon at the behest of Malacañang , Gallardo said.

Gallardo said Article 8, Section 38 of the LP Constitution and By-Laws states: The Party President The Party President shall be the principal leader and Chief Executive Officer of the Party. He shall also be the Partys Spokesperson unless he designates otherwise. He shall exercise all the powers and perform all the functions of the National Board, National Executive Council and National Political Council when the urgency of the matter cannot wait for the action of the National Board, National Executive Council (NECO) or the National Political Council. The exercise of such powers or the performance of such functions shall be reported to the NECO at its next session. He may delegate any of his powers to any party officer.

What Atienza is planning to do is to convene 101 barangay captains from Manila, misrepresent them to media as members of the LP NECO, and then proceed to illegally replace the legitimate party officers who oppose President Arroyo, Gallardo

Bukidnon Rep. Neric Acosta, LP Executive Vice President, also accused Atienza of entering into a sordid alliance with De Venecia and the Lakas-CMD in punishing LP congressmen who voted for the impeachment of President Arroyo by ousting them from chairmanships of important House Committees.

The latest victim, Acosta said, was Manila Rep. Rudy Bacani, LP Vice President from the National Capital Region, who was ousted as a member of the powerful Commission on Appointments.

In a letter to Commission of Elections (Comelec) Chairman Benjamin Abalos, LP Director General Chit Asis complained that Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Marius Corpus had issued a certification that participants in Atienzas convention were authorized to use public funds for the purpose.

We believe this is a highly partisan political activity for which the use of government funds is not allowed, Asis said.

In her letter to Abalos, Asis stated: We wish to bring to your attention Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG) Memorandum Circular 2006-10, dated February 13, 2006 signed by Acting Secretary Marius Corpus, addressed to all concerned Provincial Governors, City Mayors, Municipal Mayors and DILG Regional Directors. The Memo states: In this connection, all provincial governors and city mayors and municipal mayors, who are members of the Liberal Party, are hereby encouraged to attend on official business. The payment of applicable traveling expenses and registration fees, if any, to defray the costs of hotel accommodations, meals and conference materials, per participant may be authorized chargeable against local funds, subject to the availability thereof and to the usual accounting and auditing requirements and all the pertinent laws, rules and regulations.

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