Binay to take over PDP-Laban presidency despite Pimentel protestationBy Maila Ager
MANILA, Philippines—Vice President Jejomar Binay will assume the duties of Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III as president of PDP-Laban even if the latter refuses to take a leave of absence, a party official said.
The move came despite Pimentel’s insistence that he had not filed a leave of absence from the party.
PDP-Laban has coalesced with the newly formed group United Alliance (UNA) but Pimentel, who resented the inclusion of former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri in the UNA senatorial ticket, decided to join the Liberal Party’s senatorial ticket as guest candidate in 2013.
In a statement on Thursday, PDP-Laban’s secretary-general, Peping Cojuangco, said that Binay had accepted the party’s request that he take over Pimentel’ duties.
“We will leave the position as it is but (Vice President) Binay will assume the duties of Koko,” Cojuangco said.
“We are thankful that (Binay) has accepted this arrangement since Koko cannot attend to the party’s commitment to UNA in the agreement with PMP, which he himself signed.”
Cojuangco also disclosed that there were moves to oust Pimentel from the party but that the Vice President did not agree to it.
“In fairness to the Vice President, he did not accept this suggestion and said the decision must come first from Koko,” he said.
The officers then requested Binay to take over Pimentel’s duties as party president should the latter refuse to go.
“Under the leadership of our chairman Vice President Binay, we are stronger than ever and remain united and strong,” Cojuangco said.
“While the Vice President remains busy with his governmental duties, he laid out clear instructions for party members to continue all efforts to make our party stronger across the nation,” he added.
In a separate statement, however, Pimentel insisted that he had not taken a leave from the party.
“I wish to deny the statement made by the spokesperson of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), Atty. JV Bautista, that I have filed a leave of absence as president of PDP Laban. Such statement has no factual and legal basis,” he said.
“I have not filed any leave of absence, whether verbal or written, and have no plan whatsoever to do so. No one has asked me to go on leave, except Atty. JV Bautista, who is a newcomer to the party.”
Even Binay, Pimentel said, had not directly asked him to go on leave.
“I also do not feel any clamor from my party mates that I go on leave,” he said. “I want to believe that Atty. JV Bautista was just making a personal suggestion when he issued that statement.”
Furthermore, the senator said, the constitution and by-laws of the party “do not give any person or group of persons the power to force an officer of the Party to go on leave.”
Pimentel then urged his party to unite and find a solution to their problems “without dividing the party.”
“Instead of wasting our time issuing baseless statements and responding to false information, we can discuss this and find common ground,” he said.
“I have been a member of the PDP Laban since 1982 and have invested my time, energy, resources, talent, sweat, tears and blood in the Party; hence, I cannot just turn my back on my responsibilities as party president…,” the senator added.