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‘Duterte recognizes PDP-Laban belongs to Pimentels’

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star
âDuterte recognizes PDP-Laban belongs to Pimentelsâ
Roque dodged questions on the call of PDP-Laban executive vice-chairman Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III for Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi and his allies to form their own political party instead of wreaking havoc on the ranks of PDP-Laban, founded by the senator’s father and namesake, together with the late senators Benigno Aquino Jr. and Lorenzo Tañada.
Presidential Communications Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte recognizes that the Pimentels virtually own the PDP-Laban, which is now divided over the issue on who should be its standard bearer in next year’s general elections, presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said yesterday.

Roque dodged questions on the call of PDP-Laban executive vice-chairman Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III for Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi and his allies to form their own political party instead of wreaking havoc on the ranks of PDP-Laban, founded by the senator’s father and namesake, together with the late senators Benigno Aquino Jr. and Lorenzo Tañada.

“Well, you know it’s better to ask Secretary Cusi because the call was directed at Secretary Cusi. But let me repeat what I’ve heard from President Duterte – that the PDP-Laban is the party of the Pimentels,” Roque said in Filipino and English.

A party faction identified with Cusi supports the possible presidential run of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, while the other appears to back the presidential bid of party president Sen. Manny Pacquiao.

On Roque’s mocking the pre-Duterte PDP-Laban as having membership that would fit in a jeepney, Pimentel earlier reminded the President’s spokesman that he had aspired to be part of the party.

Roque pointed out he was not quarreling with Pimentel, saying the senator was a classmate in the UP College of Law.

“So, I do not intend to belittle PDP-Laban. Noong minsan po, sinuportahan ko po ang kaniyang ama (Once I supported his father when he) ran for vice president and every occasion na tatakbo po ang ama niya (his father would run), including Koko Pimentel,” he said.

He recalled having to face anti-riot squad at the PICC during a rally supporting the younger Pimentel’s candidacy.

“So I don’t think Koko Pimentel meant any harsh words for me because I refuse to believe that in the first place,” Roque added.

Roque admitted being a card-bearing member of the People’s Reform Party founded by the late senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

Speaker for Sara

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, meanwhile, yesterday pledged his “all-out and unconditional support” for Duterte-Carpio’s possible presidential bid.

“I will support her all the way. Mayor Inday Sara is very qualified to be the country’s next president. She can unify us and lead us forward,” he said, after joining her at Camp Navarro General Hospital in Zamboanga City yesterday for a visit to survivors of the C-130 crash.

“I am more than glad to hear that she’s open to run for president in the 2022 elections,” Velasco said.

An official of Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP), a regional party formed by Duterte-Carpio, said the Davao City mayor will make a decision in October, the month set for the filing of certificates of candidacy.

During her recent visit to Cebu province, Duterte-Carpio said in an interview that she might run for president – but definitely not with her father as running mate.

“What’s important now is that we know the sentiments of the people and what they really want,” she said.

‘Dream team’

But for Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) chairman and House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, a Duterte daughter-father tandem is an emerging dream team in next year’s elections

He said the strength of the possible Duterte-Duterte tandem is evident in the result of the latest Pulse Asia survey showing the daughter as the most preferred among possible presidential candidates, and her father topping the list of possible candidates for vice president.

“The result of the latest Pulse Asia survey is a validation of our people’s confidence and satisfaction on the Dutertes’ brand of public service… For the Filipino people, a Duterte-Duterte tandem is the dream team in 2022,” the Leyte congressman stressed.

Romualdez believes Mayor Duterte’s survey rating will even go up following her recent pronouncement that she is open to seeking the presidency in May 2022.

“The Pulse Asia report conforms with other survey findings that show Mayor Sara is the leading candidate in the 2022 presidential elections. We expect her numbers to climb even higher when the next survey covers the period after she indicated her openness to run for president,” the House leader stressed.

He said President Duterte’s topping the vice presidential preference is also no surprise.

“The voters’ preference for President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, on the other hand, is no longer surprising. He has the vice presidential post in the bag if ever he decides to seek it in 2022. He is the most qualified, most experienced and most trusted candidate for the job,” Romualdez pointed out.

The Lakas-CMD has recently reaffirmed its alliance with Mayor Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago regional party for the national elections.

On the other hand, critics of the administration in Congress see the possible Duterte-Duterte tandem as a “dynasty” that is prohibited under the 1987 Constitution.

Members of the Makabayan bloc accused the Duterte family of attempting to establish a monarchy in pushing for the daughter-and-father tandem.

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Ferdie Gaite questioned the pronouncement of HNP spokesman Anthony del Rosario that the tandem would not violate constitutional prohibition on political dynasties.

“Del Rosario is interpreting the term political dynasty as something detached from the Constitution to justify their utter disregard for that important provision,” the militant lawmaker said.

“The Constitution’s prohibition on political dynasties must be read in the context that we have a republican system and a popular election. The election does not negate the possibility of dynastic rule,” he argued.

Gaite also believed that President Duterte’s plan to run for vice president would circumvent the constitutional prohibition on reelection of the President.

“Obviously, this family is willing to throw away our Constitution in the trash just to remain in power. Is this the kind of leadership that we want?” – Edu Punay, Roel Pareño

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