Pimentel, Alvarez call for unity in PDP-Laban amid infighting

Camille Elemia
Pimentel, Alvarez call for unity in PDP-Laban amid infighting
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III urges PDP-Laban members to trust in the party leadership, while Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez says he 'remains friends' with party mates even after his ouster as Speaker

MANILA, Philippines – PDP-Laban held a leadership assembly and consultation on Thursday, August 2, amid infighting and confusion within the ruling party.

The assembly was attended by nearly 200 members, including party president Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, vice chairman Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, secretary general Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez, and Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative Rodolfo Fariñas, among others.

Pimentel, who resigned as Senate president back in May, and Alvarez, who was ousted as House speaker last week, assured members that the party is still moving in the right direction. They also called on members to trust the leadership of the party, chaired by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Mga kaibigan, mga kasama sa PDP-Laban, ang punong mabunga ang s’yang binabato. Pasalamat tayo na tayo ‘yun (Friends and party mates, people always target those who are prosperous. Let’s be thankful we are such.) So we are strong because we have the quantity and quality in our membership,” Pimentel said in a speech.

“[We should] not lose our focus… and please trust in your party leadership. We’ve never ever made a decision to the detriment of the party. Mahal namin itong partidong ito. Mahalin natin ang partidong ito (We love this party. We should love this party),” he added.

More than a week after his ouster, Alvarez told colleagues that he “perfectly understands” the change in House leadership. He said politics and friendship must be separated, telling the party’s members he is still friends with them even after what happened. (READ: After ouster, Alvarez says he is now ‘at peace’ with himself)

“‘Yung nangyaring unpleasant, ‘wag kayong mag-alala dahil perfectly naiintindihan ko ‘yung decision. Paghiwalayin po natin ang pulitika at saka ‘yung friendship. ‘Yung pulitika ok lang ‘yun kasi kung ano ang makabubuti sa inyo at sa distrito ninyo (About the unpleasant incident, don’t worry because I perfectly understand the decision. We should separate politics from friendship. Politics is fine, just do what you think is good for you and your districts). But we will remain as friends,” Alvarez said.

He then called on party mates to continue supporting PDP-Laban and Duterte.

“Mahaba pa ang journey at lalong lalo na sa partido kaya definitely magsasama pa rin tayo. Hinihiling ko sa inyo sana magkaisa tayo at lalong pagtibayin ang ating partido (This is going to be a long journey so we will still definitely work together. I ask you to unite and strengthen our party). The success of the Duterte administration is the success of the party,” he added.

Future plans

Several local officials asked the PDP-Laban leadership about the party’s plans for the future.

During the forum, one local politician relayed her confusion over the dynamics between PDP-Laban and other Duterte-allied parties, such as Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) and a supposed group of Secretary Bong Go, the President’s close aide.

Their opponents, she said, are joining HNP and Go’s group, leading to confusion and apprehension. The name of Go’s group was not mentioned.

Aside from PDP-Laban and HNP, there’s also Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, another pro-Duterte party headed by former interior and local government undersecretary JV Hinlo.

Hinlo is a member of the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte National Executive Coordinating Committee (MRRD-NECC), a group that heavily campaigned for Duterte in 2016.

In response, Pimentel said he was surprised to know about Go’s supposed group. He also said there is no formal agreement with HNP, so far, but the party would look into it.

While HNP is a regional party, there are concerns that it would endorse candidates outside the region, even national bets.

“As I’ve stated to my party mates, Hugpong is a regional party. PDP-Laban is a national party. There is really no problem with dual membership. [The] problem [would be] if the regional party fields a candidate outside its region. But kausapin na rin namin (But we will talk to) forces, parties, movements allied to support the President,” Pimentel told reporters in an interview after the assembly.

He said he would relay to Duterte the concerns that have been aired.

“PDP-Laban might face opposition, competition from allied forces. Sabihin ko sa Presidente (I’ll tell the President): How can we minimize such a situation? If we cannot totally avoid it, we should minimize it. Hindi naman siguro buong bansa gano’n (I don’t think the situation will apply to the whole country),” Pimentel said.

“We should all be cooperating with each other, not competing with each other,” he added.

Last week, a supposed PDP-Laban faction held its own elections, seeking to replace Pimentel, Alvarez, and other party officers. But Pimentel dismissed it as an “unauthorized” event organized by “expelled rogue members.”

Duterte is set to meet with the two groups to “unify” them. – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, 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 camille.elemia@rappler.com