PDP-Laban officials to grumbling members: Toe the line or leave
TAGUM CITY — The administration party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) continued to strengthen its ranks by recruiting members from Mindanao, the bailiwick of the party chair, President Duterte, amid dissent from a group that questioned the leadership of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, the party’s secretary general.
On Monday, during the oathtaking of new members from Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte provinces, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, PDP-Laban president, stood by Alvarez and warned disgruntled members that they would be removed from the party if they did not toe the line.
“I express my full trust and confidence, actually my admiration, in our very hardworking secretary general,” Pimentel said, referring to Alvarez, who was reported to have been declared persona non grata by a group of PDP-Laban members in Mindanao last week.
Pimentel credited Alvarez for expanding party membership in the House of Representatives and in different provinces. He said a reorganization was underway to weed out “errant members.”
A faction led by Tagum City-based businessman Cesar Cuntapay, former PDP-Laban interim council president in Southern Mindanao, claimed to have passed a resolution declaring Alvarez persona non grata. Pimentel, however, dismissed Cuntapay’s statement as “fake news.”
Cuntapay, who failed to provide the Inquirer a copy of the resolution, also accused Alvarez, who represents Davao del Norte province in Congress, for arbitrarily removing party leaders in Mindanao.
Alvarez shrugged off Cuntapay’s allegations but warned that the party leadership would go after members involved in alleged irregularities in recruitment.
“There are reports that some members are making money, especially in the barangays,” Alvarez said. “They collect amounts ranging from P500 to P1,000, with some even promising people they would be appointed as barangay captains. This was not authorized by the party,” Alvarez said. “This is a clear case of estafa.”
PDP-Laban’s new members came from Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte, former Liberal Party (LP) strongholds whose leaders backed the candidacy of Mr. Duterte, then Davao City mayor, during the May 2016 presidential election.
Cuntapay’s group said it would not recognize the oathtaking of members recruited by Alvarez.
But Pimentel said, “If they will not recognize us, we will not recognize them (also). We continue with our party-building, they form their own party.”
Pimentel said acceptance of new members would be considered legal if they were sworn in by top party officials, which included him, Alvarez and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, PDP-Laban vice chair.
“[Current] members must be open to changes within the party to accommodate the entry of new personalities,” he said.
But Pimentel said the party would suspend accepting politicians as new members by November “for us to have a full year to determine and support our potential candidates” for the 2019 midterm elections.
Compostela Valley’s 11 mayors, 11 vice mayors, more than 80 councilors, 10 board members and hundreds of barangay officials joined the mass oathtaking on Monday. Davao del Norte Vice Gov. Alan Dujali led former LP members in his province in joining PDP-Laban.
“This is my personal decision. I believe that [by] joining [PDP-Laban], I can bring projects from the national level to the two districts faster,” Dujali said.
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