MANILA, Philippines – A change of leadership in the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) may happen in the next few months, as some reportedly dissatisfied congressmen members moved to the National Unity Party (NUP).
At the sidelines of the homecoming party for Senator Manny Pacquiao, PDP-Laban president and Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said that “it’s about time” for them to hold a national assembly, where party leaders are elected.
“We will call for a national assembly. We will listen to the voice of the members kung sino ang gusto nila (who they want). Definitely, there will be some changes, in the committees, chairmanships, [or] the vice president,” Pimentel told reporters.
Asked for the party’s timeline, Pimentel said it could happen within the year. After all, there are “no distractions” yet, Pimentel said, as the May 2019 elections is already over.
Pimentel told reporters he wants the party to be professionalized and its members to follow their constitution. The first step? Update the membership database, he said.
The party’s national headquarters conducted a check among its members on Tuesday, August 6, asking each lawmaker to “reconfirm their membership” with the ruling party, a source told Rappler.
‘Wait for our turn’
During Wednesday’s gathering, Pimentel told his party mates not to lose hope as “they will get what they should as a party.”
Some lawmakers have reportedly left PDP-Laban for the NUP after not being chosen as chairpersons of their desired committees. At least 12 PDP-Laban congressmen moved to the second biggest bloc in Congress, NUP, which partly takes credit for the election of Taguig City-Representative Alan Peter Cayetano as House Speaker.
Prior to this, there were a total of 85 PDP-Laban congressmen. Pimentel pointed out on Wednesday there are only 71 House committees, so “mathematically speaking, it’s impossible” to satisfy the demands of everyone.
A total of 36 congressmen, or about half of the ruling party, joined Wednesday’s dinner. Its organizer, Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco, skipped the homecoming party due to health reasons.
As a way of consoling party members, Pimentel gave assurances that all they have to do is be patient until Velasco assumes the speakership post after 15 months.
“There is a term-sharing agreement well-publicized, well-explained to the people. Alam na po ng lahat ng Pilipinas ‘yon (The entire Philippines knows this). There is no way that the parties who disagree will not implement, honor, or observe the agreement,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel said that once the tide turns in their favor, “more lawmakers” will be part of their party again.
Aspiring PDP-Laban president?
As PDP-Laban was experiencing an internal shakeup, Pacquiao presented his vision to the party.
In a short speech, Pacquiao said he wants the direction of the party to be focused on peace and economic programs.
“Itong partido natin should be focused on peace and economics. Napakaraming problemang kailangang tugunan. ‘Yung income ng government dapat aksiyunan. Peace and order, walang problema dito, but dito naman sa economic side,” Pacquiao said.
(Our party should be focused on peace and economics. There are many problems that need to be addressed. The income of the government needs action. Peace and order, we don’t have a problem there, but on the economic side, [there is].)
Asked whether he wanted to become PDP-Laban president should the opportunity present itself, Pacquiao said he’s only a member who wants the best for his party.
“Ako, tumutulong lang ako dito sa partido, kung ano maiambag ko para mapaganda, ma-improve ang partido,” Pacquiao told reporters. (I am only helping the party, whatever I can contribute to make the party better, for the party to improve.)
The boxer-turned-politician said it was his idea to conduct monthly meetings and lectures to professionalize the party. Pimentel said all of these would be implemented.
Pacquiao was the campaign manager of the party during the 2019 senatorial elections, where PDP-Laban fielded 5 candidates. Of the 5, only former Maguindanao 2nd district representative Zajid Mangudadatu lost.
While he said he’s not gunning for a higher role in PDP-Laban, Pacquiao recently hosted important party meetings in his Makati residence. Some lawmakers wondered why even some of the House speakership meetings were held in Pacquiao’s home when he was only designated to announce the official party bet for Speaker.
Pacquiao said he would call for another meeting later in August to discuss “new developments” in the party with Pimentel. – with a report from Mara Cepeda/Rappler.com