UNA exit causing problems–Senator Pimentel IIIBy Leoncio Balbin Jr., Vincent Cabreza
Inquirer Northern Luzon
Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Saturday admitted he needed to address some nagging issues regarding his leadership of PDP-Laban after he bolted the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) to which his party still owes allegiance.
Speaking to reporters, Pimentel said local party members continued to raise questions about coordination, as well as financing arrangements, because of the odd setup where PDP-Laban is expected to honor UNA commitments to which he, its president, had no more binding obligation.
For the meantime, party discussions about UNA that require Pimentel’s approval will go through a committee, he said.
Pimentel was here for the Baguio staging of his national disaster risk management road tour. He had just completed the fourth roadshow conference in Candon City on July 4.
UNA is the coalition between PDP-Laban, the party of Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is its potential standard bearer for the 2016 presidential election, and former President Joseph Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino.
Pimentel said he found himself cornered when UNA decided to include resigned Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri in its slate. Zubiri resigned in 2011 to give way to Pimentel, who won an election protest dating back to the 2007 elections.
As a result, Pimentel left UNA.
Asked if leaving UNA impacted negatively on the coalition, he said: “It was not my intention to affect UNA but it was my intention to have a happy heart during my campaign. Let the chips fall where they may.”
But the decision haunts the party, he said. “[Questions about UNA coordination] had been raised [at a PDP-Laban conference at Teachers Camp],” he said.
“My struggle has not yet ended … Although I have left UNA—I don’t care anymore about the coalition matters—there are party matters [about the coalition to which] I have to attend. So this is a continuing struggle as to how we in the party will be able to work this out,” he said.
“When an UNA matter is referred to me, I would refer it [in turn] to the appropriate party official who will bring it up to UNA because I have inhibited myself from UNA matters. I will not block UNA.”
He said Jose “Joey” de Venecia III, the party’s executive vice president for external affairs, will deal directly with UNA for the meantime.
“The next problem referred to me [about addressing UNA coordination without the participation of the PDP-Laban president] is from down below [referring to local party members gearing up for the 2013 polls],” Pimentel said.