Koko willing to give up PDP-Laban post, but not to Rogelio Garcia
Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Friday said he was willing to give up his post in President Duterte’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), but not to Rogelio Garcia.
“Why him? … Why should he benefit from all our hard work?” Pimentel said of Garcia, who was elected PDP-Laban president in what the senator described as an “unauthorized” assembly of a party faction on July 27.
In that assembly, Garcia’s group elected new national officers and booted out Pimentel and Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez as PDP-Laban president and secretary general, respectively.
The group also elected Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go as interim national auditor.
Pimentel said he had no issue relinquishing his position to someone who had worked hard for the party, but not to those “who took a shortcut to hit the jackpot.”
“Magbanat din po ng buto (Work for it at least),” Pimentel said, referring to Garcia.
Pimentel said the President met with his and Garcia’s groups on Thursday night, where Mr. Duterte asked the two warring factions to settle their disputes by talking, instead of publicly battling it out.
Mr. Duterte also vowed to strengthen the party for the 2019 polls, the former Senate President said.
“The President said that PDP-Laban is his party and that he is duty-bound to campaign for its candidates in the 2019 midterm elections,” Pimentel said.
The President has also set a “more formal” meeting with the two factions on Sept. 1, “to fix whatever needs fixing” between the two groups, he added.
Only legit members
According to Pimentel, Mr. Duterte remains party chair while he remains party president. The meeting in Manila was not the time to name new officers, he said.
If PDP-Laban were to have a formal process to resolve issues, it would make sure only legitimate party members would be able to participate, Pimentel said, referring to only those who had undergone the basic membership seminar, took their oaths and paid their membership dues and fees.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a radio interview on Friday that the President would attempt to reunite PDP-Laban in September.
“And if they really cannot settle all their issues amicably, they can go their separate ways,” Roque said.
Garcia said his group felt “vindicated” in that meeting, claiming that Mr. Duterte “recognized the existence” of their group with “valid and legitimate issues.”
In a text message to the Inquirer on Friday, Garcia said his group was “thinking of offering” Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo the chairmanship of the party’s national council.
This, Garcia explained, was the highest policymaking body of the party, which “sets their agenda” as well as the “thrust and directions of the party.”
“Our group is requesting for a courtesy call from her office, [but] no reply yet,” Garcia said, adding that the national chair’s post, which President Duterte currently holds, is different from that of the national council chair.
Hand of friendship
In Davao City, Mayor Sara Duterte said that Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP), the regional political party she had set up in the Davao region, was offering a hand of friendship to the troubled party.
“HNP finds it truly unfortunate that PDP-Laban is embroiled in internal problems and hopes that competing party members [can] resolve their differences,” the mayor said in a statement released to the media.
“If there is anything that HNP can do to help PDP-Laban, our group is ready to assist them,” she said.
“HNP is offering a hand of friendship to all other political parties who support the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte,” she added.
But HNP, she said, will remain a regional party, and does not intend to recruit members of PDP-Laban or other national political parties.
“While the party has supporters outside of Davao region, we advise them to form their own local parties or join other national parties,” she said.
“The HNP respects the history, experience and the wisdom of the PDP-Laban party,” the mayor said.
The President’s daughter was said to have had a hand in the unseating of former House Speaker Alvarez, a PDP-Laban stalwart, who once described her newly formed political party as part of the opposition. —WITH REPORTS FROM DJ YAP, JULIE M. AURELIO AND LEILA B. SALAVERRIA, AND GERMELINA LACORTE, INQUIRER MINDANAO
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