Pimentel vows to 'fight' for reelectionist allies in PDP-Laban slate

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III assured reelectionist senators in the majority bloc that he is "fighting" for their inclusion in the PDP-Laban slate in 2019.

This comes after Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito aired the grievance of reelectionist senator-allies that they were left out despite having supported the government and its policies.

"Siyempre hindi nila alam 'yung nangyayari behind closed doors. Nilalaban ko 'yan, except na nandito pa kami sa stage na kapartido muna namin ine-entertain namin, kaya kung mapapansin 'nyo hindi pa talaga namin binubuo. Nothing is final naman pa," said Pimentel, PDP-Laban president, in a dzBB interview on Sunday, March 25.

(They do not know what's happening behind closed doors. I'm fighting for them except that we are still at a stage where we are still entertaining our party mates. That's why if you'll notice, we don't have a final list yet.)

"Oo, of course [nilalaban ko], kasama ko sila sa majority at supportive sila sa Pangulo: free tuition, free irrigation, tax reform, BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law), umaandar naman lahat ito. Na-achieve dahil sa support [nila]. Kailangan meron din silang priority seat sa aming slate. Kailangan lang konsulta lang muna sa partido."

(Yes, of course [I will fight for them]. They are with me in the majority bloc, and they are supportive of the President: free tuition law, free irrigation law, tax reform, BBL. We achieve it because of their support. They should have a priority seat in our slate. We just need to consult with the party.)

The issue arose after House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez bared his own initial lineup, without the 5 senator-allies – Ejercito, Grace Poe, Cynthia Villar, Juan Edgardo Angara, and Nancy Binay.

"'Dun po 'yung sama ng loob ng mga reelectionist senators na naging supportive naman kami, bakit parang ayaw kami isama sa administration coalition kung sakali," Ejercito said in a press conference last Thursday, March 22.

"We have done our part to support; sana naman alagaan din kami (I hope they take care of us, too)," Ejercito said.

Ejercito also revealed that he and other reelectionist senators, including Angara, Binay, Poe, Villar, and Paolo Benigno Aquino IV are considering a possible alliance to run under presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio's Hugpong ng Pagbabago.

Aquino is a member of the opposition while the rest are Duterte allies.

Although talks are not yet final, Ejercito said the 6 have decided to stay together, whether under a coalition or not.

Alvarez vs Pimentel list

Alvarez's list included Pimentel, Presidential Political Adviser Francis Tolentino, Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Representative Reynaldo Umali, Maguindanao 2nd District Representative Zajid Mangudadatu, Bataan 1st District Representative Geraldine Roman, Davao City 1st District Representative Karlo Nograles, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, and Special Assistant to the President Bong Go.

Alvarez also mentioned Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson and Negros Occidental 3rd District Representative Alfredo Benitez.

Now, Pimentel named his 13 possible candidates, including himself and fellow senators Ejercito, Angara, Villar, Binay, and Poe.

He also mentioned Go, Nograles, Mangudadatu, Roman, Roque, Tolentino, and Umali.

Pimentel said he is also open to getting Taguig City-Pateros Representative and former senator Pia Cayetano to run under the administration slate. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.