No special event to announce PDP-Laban’s Senate slate

MANILA, Philippines – There will be no big event to announce the senatorial slate of ruling party PDP-Laban for the 2019 elections.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, PDP-Laban president, said this just a few days before the filing of certificates of candidacy begins on Thursday, October 11.

“We will not hold any special gathering anymore because we are all pressed for time,” Pimentel told Rappler in a message on Sunday, October 7.

In a separate message to reporters on Monday, Pimentel said: “Walang ceremony. Allergic ako diyan.” (No ceremony. I am allergic to that.)

Instead, the PDP-Laban president said, they would just give a list of names to the media after the party files the candidates' COCs.

Under past administrations, ruling parties and coalitions usually held events ahead of or during the COC filing week to announce their senatorial bets and introduce them to the public. Team PNoy and the Daang Matuwid coalition did so in 2012 and 2015, respectively.

No final slate yet: As of Monday, Pimentel said PDP-Laban's slate had yet to be finalized. On October 4, he said the list only had 5 or 6 names so far, down from an initial list of 24 possible bets.

If there is still no final lineup before October 11, he said individual aspirants could file their COCs using PDP-Laban’s Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance (CONA).

“Wala pang naka-set. 'Pag 'di kami makaset, then diretso na lang mag-file, using PDP-Laban CONA,” Pimentel said. (We still have not set anything. If we fail to set it, then candidates can go straight to filing their COCs using PDP-Laban CONA.)

“Then just keep track of how many filed with PDP CONAs,” he said in another message.

Pimentel said they "will just release a complete list of all PDP-Laban candidates nationwide once the headquarters has consolidated the various lists." 

This development comes months after an internal feud divided the party. (READ: PDP-Laban struggles for unity, survival ahead of 2019 polls)

Who’s in? According to two Rappler sources, the party’s senatorial slate includes the following names:

1. Pimentel
2. Presidential Political Adviser Francis Tolentino
3. Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque
4. Zajid “Dong” Mangudadatu
5. Former Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa, who recently took his oath with the party
6. Special Assistant to the President Bong Go.

However, Go has expressed apprehension, which Pimentel confirmed in an earlier interview. Another source said Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Martin Diño would be fielded in lieu of Go.

In 2015, it was also Diño who filed a COC after then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte dropped plans to run for president. Duterte, however, later on substituted for Diño.

On August 31, PDP-Laban introduced its 8 "very possible" candidates. Davao City 1st District Representative Karlo Nograles already backed out of the race while a source said Quirino Representatie Dax Cua is reportedly no longer being considered. The fate of Makati City 1st District Representative Monsour del Rosario is still unknown to date.

Asked to confirm Rappler’s list, Pimentel only said: “Fluid lahat, so everyone is busy assessing his own chances.”

With less than 12 names, Pimentel said it is now up to campaign manager, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, to devise a game plan.

“If PDP-Laban fields less than 12, then it is up to the campaign manager if he wants to 'adopt' more candidates to complete the 12-person slate. Let us wait first for the deadline to pass,” Pimentel said.

Rappler has repeatedly tried to reach Cusi but the secretary has yet to respond. – Rappler.com