No ‘suitors’ yet for Sen. PimentelBy Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III has no official “suitors” at the moment after he formally bolted the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
But Pimentel on Wednesday said he was not in a hurry to join any other political party as a possible guest candidate, noting that the filing of certificates of candidacy for next year’s midterm elections would not start until October.
He said he was prepared to run “alone” as a member of the Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), which, incidentally, forms the other half of the UNA coalition. The other coalition member is former President Joseph Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).
“There’s no reason for me to rush. I’m not party-less,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a phone interview from Ilocos.
Officials of the Liberal Party (LP) had publicly expressed interest in getting Pimentel soon after he had announced that he was leaving UNA. Pimentel said he could not “in conscience” run with former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri under the same ticket.
Pimentel failed to serve the first four years of his six-year term after Zubiri was declared winner of the 12th and final spot in the 2007 senatorial race. Zubiri resigned in August last year amid an election fraud investigation, and months before the Senate Electoral Tribunal was to rule on Pimentel’s election protest against him.
‘I will survive’
Pimentel said none from the LP or the Nacionalista Party of Senator Manuel Villar had formally approached him in connection with the 2013 senatorial elections. He said he was ready for what he described as a “worst-scenario” of having to run only under his own party, the PDP-Laban.
“I would look lonely, but I won’t feel lonely,” he said. “With no other party helping me out, I think I would still survive. I have to survive but if I don’t, that’s the price I have to pay.”
Pimentel acknowledged the possibility that he might not get a slot in other political parties should they decide to field a complete senatorial lineup. Going by media reports, he said the LP, for instance, appeared to have a lot of prospective candidates of its own.
“But that should not affect me because I’m not party-less,” he said.
Pimentel said getting the endorsement of any of UNA’s Big 3 was also not out of the question.
He said he could still secure the backing of Estrada, Vice President Jejomar Binay, or Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile—but only if UNA would not come up with a complete slate.
“I can approach them individually, but of course it would depend on them,” he said, agreeing with Enrile’s previous statement that the Senate President could only do so after he had fulfilled his party obligations.
“I would completely understand that. As a party leader, I would also do the same,” Pimentel said.