MANILA, Philippines – Business tycoon and former ambassador Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr is back at the helm of the Nationalist People’s Coalition as it prepares for the 2019 midterm elections.
Cojuangco has long been the symbolic figurehead of the NPC as its chairman emeritus. But in May, he officially returned as chairman, taking on an active role in the party he established for his presidential bid in 1992.
The party met on May 24 to “restructure” its leadership, according to Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III.
“As Chairman Emeritus dati, [meaning] forever chairman pero inactive. Ngayon active [role] eh kasi ni-restructure namin. Nag-retire na siya sa politics pero di niya puwede pabayaan ang political party,” Sotto said.
(As Chairman Emeritus, it means he was forever chairman but inactive. Now, he has an active role because we restructured our party. He retired from politics but he cannot not help the political party.)
Sotto explained Cojuangco had to come in because the previous party leadership could not agree on their direction.
The NPC’s leadership will now be composed of Cojuangco as the chairman and 8 council of leaders, who are yet to be identified on June 10. Sotto said he is likely to be a part of it.
"Dati, pinapabayaan niya leadership with the president, chair, secretary general. Eh lately di masyado maganda takbo, kanya-kanya ang pangyayari, pag-iisip as far as takbo ng partido is concerned,” Sotto said.
(Before he just lets the leadership be. But lately the party has not been doing well, they have their own preferences and thinking on how to run the party.)
Sotto said the party leaders plan to appoint a sub-committee of 3 to go around the country to “reorganize and strengthen” local leadership.
“Lagi kami malakas sa local, magpapalakas pa kami. (We have always been strong at the local level. We will continue to beef up our strength there.) We’re preparing for the 2019 elections,” he said.
In 2016, the NPC supported Senator Grace Poe’s presidential bid. At the time, Cojuangco rarely appeared in any public gathering. Some members also said Cojuangco was physically weak then.
Now, the party is allied with the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, who is allied with the family of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. (READ: Duterte: 'Ex-soldier and president' Marcos deserves Libingan burial)
The politically influential Cojuangco is a known Marcos crony and uncle of former president Benigno Aquino III. He ran for president in 1992 shortly after the government seized the coconut levy assets. (READ: Coco levy fund scam: Gold for the corrupt, crumbs for farmers)
He, however, lost to then former Philippine Constabulary chief Fidel V. Ramos.
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email email@example.com