SC affirms Comelec recognition of Pimentel bloc as PDP-Laban's leaders
PDP-Laban is President Rodrigo Duterte's political party.

SC affirms Comelec recognition of Pimentel bloc as PDP-Laban's leaders

(Philstar.com) - July 16, 2019 - 11:50am

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court affirmed the Commission on Elections’ recognition of Sen. Koko Pimentel as the "legitimate" head of the Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban party and its officers.

In an SC en banc notice of resolution released Tuesday, the high court dismissed the petition filed by Rogelio Garcia, who claimed to be the national president of PDP-Laban, assailing the Comelec’s Nov. 28, 2018 resolution.

Garcia accused the poll commission of grave abuse of discretion when it declared Pimentel’s submitted sworn information update statement (SIUS) and list of authorized signatories as the “legitimate and official” SIUS and LIAS for the 2019 midterm elections.

PDP-Laban factions

This came after an internal squabble erupted in President Rodrigo Duterte's political party last year.

For the 2019 midterm polls, Pimentel and Garcia—who claimed he ousted the senator as head of the political party—filed their respective SIUS and LIAS, but the Comelec said it “takes judicial notice” that Pimentel “was the one authorized” to file the LIAS for the political party in 2016.

“The Commission still maintains its recognition of the officers of Pimentel Group and PDP-Laban’s legitimate officers authorized to act for and in behalf of PDP-Laban,” the Comelec resolution further read.

Garcia then elevated his petition to the SC.

In resolving his petition for certiorari, the SC said that Garcia failed to sufficiently show that the Comelec committed grave abuse of discretion.

It held: “As correctly found by the COMELEC, without a direct challenge questioning the legitimacy of the group of Senator Pimentel as the officers of PDP Laban and a consequent adverse ruling by the COMELEC against such officers, it must continue to act for and in behalf of PDP Laban.”

“Necessarily, the Comelec must recognized  the SIUS and the List submitted by such officers,” the notice further read.

The tribunal however stressed that its resolution is “without prejudice to the filing of direct challenge by petitioner questioning the legitimacy of Sen. Pimentel’s group before the Comelec.”

This is not the first power struggle within PDP-Laban, a minority party until Duterte ran for president and won.

In 2014, Pimentel and Jejomar Binay, vice president at the time and the party's chairman, were at odds over the party's senatorial slate for the 2016 elections.

The United Nationalist Alliance, at the time a coalition between PDP-Laban and the Estrada-led Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, included Juan Miguel Zubiri on its slate despite Pimentel filing an electoral case against the former over the 2007 elections.

Binay bolted PDP-Laban and formed UNA as a political party while Pimentel ran under the administration Liberal Party-led "Daang Matuwid" ticket.

Pimentel and Zubiri have long mended fences and are both members of the majority bloc at the Senate. — Kristine Joy Patag

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