MANILA, Philippines – Leaders of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) denied leaving their party mates out in the cold in the House of Representatives.
On Wednesday, August 7, PDP-Laban stalwart and House Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel said they were “working day and night” to make sure all PDP-Laban district representatives would get the leadership posts they had been eyeing in the House.
“In the past few weeks, there have been reports or articles published in newspapers. I believe that it is black propaganda perpetrated by some unscrupulous persons, that the leadership of PDP-Laban, pinapabayaan daw ang mga members (is allegedly neglecting our members). That is totally untrue. We are vehemently denying that accusation,” Pimentel said.
He was speaking before the party’s 3 (out of 4) senators and 44 (out of the 73) district representatives who gathered at the New World Hotel in Makati on Wednesday night.
In his speech, Pimentel said PDP-Laban had been given a majority of posts in the lower chamber. (READ: LIST: House committee chairmanships for 18th Congress)
Among the key posts given to the ruling party are 6 out of the 18 spots for deputy speaker; 5 deputy majority leaders; 4 assistant majority leaders; and 3 out of the 12 seats in the Commission on Appointments, where the House contingent is led by San Juan Representative Ronaldo Zamora. Oriental Mindoro 1st District Representative Salvador Leachon is also heading the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal.
Several PDP-Laban members were reportedly disappointed that their leaders in the House – like Pimentel, Leachon, and Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr – supposedly neglected them in the ongoing negotiations for key House posts.
But Pimentel insisted they were “fighting” for their allies.
“Alam ‘nyo, nakikipag-away na po tayo doon sa leadership (You know, we are even fighting the leadership) just to protect our interest, just to protect the rights of PDP-Laban in the party allocation. We will fight tooth and nail every day so that all members will get their respective committees and memberships,” he said.
PDP-Laban’s gathering on Wednesday night was supposed to be the House members’ victory party for Senator Manny Pacquiao, who recently defeated American boxer Keith Thurman.
But the event was far from festive, with congressmen taking the opportunity to report to PDP-Laban president and Senator Aquilino Pimentel III that they remained as the biggest bloc in the House.
There was a live band which performed, but most of the PDP-Laban members left as soon as the program ended.
Pacquiao, however, stayed behind for a short meeting with Johnny Pimentel, Leachon, Gonzales, and PDP-Laban spokesperson Ron Munsayac.
PDP-Laban member and Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco, who is expected to become Speaker after Taguig City-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano’s 15-month term in the post, was unable to attend the event due to an illness.
PDP-Laban asking for ‘patience’
During the program, Deputy Speaker Ferdinand Hernandez, another PDP-Laban stalwart, asked for patience from his party mates. He said it takes several weeks before all leadership positions in the House are filled up.
“Try to hold on and continue to support the party. ‘Yong partido naman ho (The party leaders) are trying our best to give you what you deserve and give you the committees you deserve. So konting pasensya (please exercise more patience),” Hernandez said.
The PDP-Laban gathering on Wednesday night came after 12 of its members jumped ship to the National Unity Party (NUP) on Tuesday, August 6.
The NUP earlier publicized a list where 15 of its new members supposedly came from the ruling party. But PDP-Laban is now insisting only 12 bolted their party.
Among the PDP-Laban members whose name was in the NUP list was Cavite 8th District Representative Abraham Tolentino. He was present when NUP elected its new members on Tuesday.
Tolentino clarified on Wednesday that he was simply there as part of the entourage of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, who also attended the NUP meeting. He said he left the room when his former PDP-Laban allies were about to take their oath as NUP members.
“That’s why I’m here. I’m still with PDP!” Tolentino said at the New World Hotel gathering.