Koko reveals half of PDP-Laban’s possible ‘Magic 12’
Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Friday disclosed six of his unofficial choices for the senatorial slate of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) in the 2019 congressional election, all of them from political families and three of them former members of a rival political party.
Pimentel, who is also PDP-Laban president, said that six of the party’s “Magic 12” could include himself, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez, Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman, Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles and former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chair Francis Tolentino.
Former LP allies
But the list is still unofficial and includes only his “personal preferences,” Pimentel said, adding that filling up the 12-member slate was still “a developing (and)/evolving” matter, and that he had yet to discuss the issue personally with the prospective candidates.
Before moving to PDP-Laban, Benitez, Roman and Tolentino were allies of the Liberal Party (LP) under the Aquino administration.
Roman’s mother, Herminia, represented the first district of Bataan from 2007-2016 under the LP, while third termer Benitez is the son of former Marcos Deputy Minister of Human Settlements Jose Conrado Benitez.
Nograles’ father is former House Speaker Prospero Nograles, while Fariñas has been in politics since 1980 when he was elected Laoag mayor.
Tolentino’s brother Abraham was a Cavite representative while his sister-in-law is the incumbent Tagaytay City mayor.
In an interview with reporters, Pimentel said his personal choices were limited to current members of PDP-Laban but that if the party could not complete the lineup, he was open to including guest candidates.
“But if we can, I am sorry but we will have to compete even with friendly forces. That’s party loyalty,” he said.
Pimentel said reelectionist senators would be given priority in the slate if they joined the party, and that PDP-Laban has a standing invitation to Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito. “We have to wait for it to happen,” he said in an earlier text message.
The PDP-Laban official added that he also plans to ask House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to be the party’s national campaign manager with the battle cry “12-0” for the senatorial slate if the latter runs unopposed in the 2019 elections.
The Senate President earlier said he would also seek reelection as he was not able to complete his first six-year term following a long drawn-out election protest against Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri in the May 2010 elections.
Pimentel was proclaimed senator in August 2011, which meant he served only one year and 10 months of his first term. —WITH A REPORT FROM JOCELYN R. UY