Pimentel joins Liberal Party as guest candidateBy Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III has accepted President Aquino’s invitation to run as a “guest candidate” of the ruling coalition in the 2013 senatorial race.
Pimentel, who is the president of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), announced his acceptance of Mr. Aquino’s offer following a meeting with the President yesterday at the conferment of the National Artist Award on the late movie star, Fernando Poe Jr.
“I would like to announce that I have accepted the President’s invitation for me to join and be part of his senatorial ticket for 2013, and I would like to thank the President for inviting me,” he told reporters.
He said Mr. Aquino extended the invitation to him at a chance meeting during the Independence Day diplomatic reception at the Palace.
“The President said, ‘you have a home here,’ so I really feel at home and welcome in the President’s ticket,” said Pimentel.
He stressed that he was not leaving his party as he would be running only as “guest candidate” of the Liberal Party (LP)-led administration coalition.
PDP-Laban, of which Vice President Jejomar Binay is the chair, has formed the rival United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) with the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) of deposed President and convicted plunderer Joseph Estrada.
Pimentel declined to run under the UNA coalition because of the presence in the slate of former senator Miguel Zubiri who was “erroneously” declared the winner of the 12th and final slot in the 2007 senatorial election.
Pimentel, who was declared the rightful winner after a Commission on Elections investigation unearthed supposed election fraud in the 2007 elections, assumed office only in
August 2011 after Zubiri resigned.
Pimentel has insisted that Zubiri was involved in the fraud and said he could not “in conscience” run in the same ticket with him.
‘Debt of gratitude’
Asked if other members of his party would follow him into the administration coalition,
Pimentel said: “This is a personal decision. I am the only person affected.”
He said his inclusion in the administration senatorial slate had no preconditions.
But he admitted to owing a “debt of gratitude” to Mr. Aquino for his victory in his election protest against Zubiri.
Pimentel said the President had told him at the meeting that the administration’s senatorial ticket was almost complete.
“He has a problem, I think, because there are still 13 names, and the party should prepare for (only) 12 candidates,” he said.
The President earlier announced at least three would-be senatorial candidates of the coalition—Aurora Representative Juan Edgardo Angara, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority head Joel Villanueva and social activist Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel.
Originally posted at 05:41 pm | Thursday, August 16, 2012