MANILA, Philippines – “No implication” on the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said the signing of alliance between presidential daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago and 3 other national political parties has no effect on the ruling party.
On Monday, August 13, HNP, the Davao regional party of Carpio, inked an alliance with the Nacionalista Party (NP), National People’s Coalition (NPC), and National Unity Party (NUP) for the 2019 elections.
“Congrats to them all. No implication on us,” said Pimentel, PDP-Laban president, after the alliance was formalized in Parañaque. (READ: PDP-Laban struggles for unity, survival ahead of 2019 polls)
HNP vs PDP-Laban? Pimentel has repeatedly downplayed the effect of HNP on the political landscape and on the ruling party itself.
But there are reports many PDP-Laban members are jumping ship.
Pimentel insisted that HNP is a new regional party and is still “expanding its network." The PDP-Laban also did the same alliance-building in the House of Representatives – in what was called a “supermajority” – during the term of former speaker and Davao del Norte 1st district Representative Pantaleon Alvarez.
“HNP is a new entity hence it is still expanding its network. During the speakership of Alvarez, PDP-Laban also signed agreements with all known political parties and organizations at that time,” he said.
Carpio said her father, President Rodrigo Duterte, has “nothing” to do with her HNP since he remains chairman of PDP-Laban. The President, however, is set to grace the oath-taking of HNP members in Davao City on August 17.
It remains confusing to some, as President Duterte earlier met with PDP-Laban leaders and its factions to "unify" them. In the meeting, Duterte vowed to campaign for the party's candidates. (READ: Duterte 'unites' PDP-Laban factions, vows help in 2019)
Another meeting would be held in September, ahead of the filing fo the Certificates of Candidacy and the Certificates of Nomination and Acceptance (CONA).
PDP-Laban, HNP coalition? Pimentel earlier said PDP-Laban is open to an alliance with HNP. He had also said there is no issue with his party mates joining HNP, as it is only a regional party.
However, he had admitted that there could be a problem with HNP’s endorsement of national or senatorial candidates.
Carpio, for her part, said HNP party leaders have decided to wait for PDP-Laban to resolve its internal conflicts before signing an alliance with them.
“We would like to have an alliance with PDP-Laban but our governors and officers said in our discussions ayusin muna nila yung internal problem nila (they should fix their internal problem first),” said Carpio.
Pimentel denied that there is an internal problem in PDP-Laban.
"The so-called internal problem is a figment of the imagination of some people. An image they want to keep alive in the media," Pimentel said when asked for comment.
"We know it's political season already. Hence, PDP-Laban should not allow itself to be distracted by all these noise maneuverings and psy war tactics," he added.
What now? There is also another reason why the prospect of an alliance between HNP and the ruling party remains dim: the public feud between Carpio and Alvarez, who is set on running for reelection and is sure to face opposition from HNP.
With Carpio and Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos in the coalition, it's difficult to see an alliance with Alvarez's party. (READ: The women behind the fall of Alvarez)
Things are heating up and a lot of things and surprises could still happen, as President Duterte has been entertaining all camps. After all, it is only less than a year to go before the May 2019 elections. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email email@example.com