MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto and his wife Batangas 6th District Representative Vilma Santos Recto have left the once-ruling Liberal Party (LP) and are now allied with the Nacionalista Party (NP).
This was confirmed to Rappler by Vilma Santos on Friday, September 21, the same day their newly formed local party One Batangas sealed an alliance with NP in a ceremony held in Lipa City. (READ: NP to field Imee Marcos, Cynthia Villar, Pia Cayetano in senatorial elections)
“This is a result of the consultations with political leaders in Batangas… We are now with NP,” the reelectionist legislator told Rappler in a text message.
Her husband Recto clarified to reporters in Lipa that he will just be an adviser to One Batangas.
“Hindi pa siguro kasing laki ng LP [ang] NP. So I, or we, are transferring to a smaller party. So politically, parang counter-intuitive ‘yan. By the way, adviser lang ako ng One Batangas. ‘Yong mga lokal ang nando’n. I will be joining NP,” said Recto.
(Perhaps NP is not as big as LP yet. So we are transferring to a smaller party. That’s like counter-intuitive in politics. By the way, I’m just an adviser to One Batangas. The local officials are part of it. I will be joining NP.)
Apart from the Rectos, present during the “Sanduguan” event of One Batangas and NP were reelectionist Senator Cynthia Villar, wife of NP president and ex-senator Manny Villar, their son Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, Batangas Vice Governor Sofronio Ona, and other local politicians.
Batangas lawmakers were present as well: Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu of the 2nd District, Lianda Bolilia of the 4th District, and Mario Mariño of the 5th District.
In his speech during the event, Recto explained One Batangas’ decision to coalesce with NP.
“We are united in our vision, we share the common values, we are joined by mutual goals, we aspire for one dream – and that is a nation where our children can live in peace, progress and prosperity. But we cannot do it alone,” said Recto, whose term as senator lasts until 2022.
“So we have to forge solidarity with a party that likewise shares our aspiration. Because ‘if you want to walk fast, walk alone. But you want to walk far, walk together.’ And we have found our kindred partner in this journey to the future, at ito po ang Partido Nacionalista (and it is with the Nacionalista Party),” he added.
NP has also coalesced with another local party, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio's Hugpong ng Pagbabago.
Parting with LP
In an interview with reporters, the senator likened the alliance with the “return of the prodigal son,” as his grandfather Claro Recto and father Rafael Recto were NP members.
“I will continue to be independent-minded in the Senate, collaborating with the executive when there is common ground, and opposing policies when they will hurt our people and country,” said Recto.
Recto ran for the Senate for the first time in 1992 under the NP banner. In the 2016 elections in 2016, he and his wife Vilma ran under LP.
LP stalwart and Marikina 2nd District Representative Miro Quimbo said the Rectos had informed LP about their plan to move to NP.
Quimbo said he is particularly “saddened” by LP’s parting with Vilma. He said LP has “always been proud” of her because of her achievements as former mayor and governor of Lipa.
Still, he understood why former LP members like the Rectos feel the need to transfer to “friendlier parties” for the 2019 midterm elections.
“As elections draw closer, the pressure for many of our members in the LP to transfer to friendly parties will be even more significant. While we understand how ‘political realities’ influence a politician’s decision, I cannot hide my sadness when a member leaves us. I understand them but it is truly saddening specially since most of those left in LP have been through hell and back by now,” said Quimbo.
Batangas is the 7th most vote-rich province in the country, with 1,526,195 registered voters as of 2016. – with reports by Camille Elemia/Rappler.com