MANILA, Philippines – Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr, uncle of President Benigno Aquino III, will be involved in the United Nationalist Alliance’s (UNA) preparations for the 2013 elections, Sen Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said.
Cojuangco is expected to attend the scheduled top leaders’ meeting of UNA on Tuesday, April 24, where the newly formed coalition will tackle its general direction and plans for next year’s polls, according to Pimentel.
Asked if Cojuangco has been involved in UNA, Pimentel said, “I don’t think so but he will be, so future tense, he will be. As a recognized leader of PDP-Laban, he will be involved.”
Pimentel said Cojuangco’s wife, Tingting, is one of the bets of PDP-Laban in future elections in ARMM, possibly in 2013. Tingting Cojuangco wanted to run for vice governor of ARMM under PDP-Laban last year but her nephew, Aquino, pushed to postpone the elections and synchronize it with the 2013 polls. (Read: ARMM residency question hounds Cojuangco)
In the 2010 elections, the Cojuangco couple was rumored to support Aquino but not his running mate, Liberal Party vice presidential bet Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas. Instead, they were reported to have backed Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Peping Cojuangco, however, insisted that he campaigned for Roxas.
The LP, headed by President Aquino, is fielding a separate senatorial slate in 2013. Asked about the possibility of a common LP-UNA slate next year, an LP official said: “Very remote.”
Pimentel also said that he will be raising important points during the Tuesday meeting, including his continuing objection to the possible inclusion of former Bukidnon Rep Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri in the UNA senatorial slate.
Pimentel told Rappler: “[Migz Zubiri] does not belong to PDP-Laban. He does not belong to PMP so why is he included?”
UNA is a coalition between Binay’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) and former President Joseph Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) for the 2013 polls. Pimentel is president of PDP-Laban.
“I will find out on Tuesday,” Pimentel told Rappler. “[I am against it] unless PMP will say, ‘Well, he will join us.’ I will listen to PMP.”
Pimentel filed an electoral protest against Zubiri over the 2007 senatorial elections. In August 2011, Zubiri resigned from the Senate days before the Senate Electoral Tribunal declared Pimentel the winner of the protest.
Yet the two may find themselves in the same senatorial slate next year. Binay announced that he is considering Zubiri as an UNA senatorial bet to increase the representation of Mindanao in the Senate. (Read: Koko, Migz can fix rift – Binay camp)
Zubiri hails from Bukidnon while Pimentel is from Cagayan de Oro.
Pimentel said the Tuesday meeting will be a gathering of leaders expected to form UNA’s executive committee once the Commission on Elections (Comelec) approves the coalition’s registration.
The senator said the following are expected to attend:
- Vice President Jejomar Binay as UNA and PDP-Laban chairman
- Former President Joseph Estrada as PMP president
- Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile as PMP chairman emeritus
- Sen Jinggoy Estrada (PMP)
- Jesse Ejercito (PMP)
- Former Nueva Ecija Rep Simeon Garcia (PMP)
- Sen Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III as PDP-Laban president
- Joey de Venecia as PDP-Laban secretary-general
- Lawyer JV Bautista as PDP-Laban executive director
- Manila Councilor Bernie Ang as PDP-Laban treasurer
Finalizing slate not on agenda
Pimentel said the meeting will tackle the general direction of the coalition, focusing on problems UNA anticipates and how to resolve these problems.
He clarified, though, that the meeting is not meant to finalize UNA’s senatorial slate.
“The filing of certificates [of candidacy] will be October, first week, so if I know Philippine politics, it will be finalized [in] August and a party which can finalize its ticket two months before filing should be congratulated because actually sometimes, it’s even done a week before deadline.”
Pimentel said he may be asked to report on the status of UNA’s registration with Comelec, which has not yet been approved.
He said another possible issue that may be discussed is the negotiations with other parties like the Nacionalista Party (NP), Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) and the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP). UNA is in talks with these parties for a possible coalition.
In another interview, de Venecia told Rappler that the meeting will just be a “kick-off.”
“Unang-una (first of all), it’s a kick-off and it’s not just senatorial but also local. Walang desisyon, kick-off lang.” (No decisions, it’s just a kick-off.)
Problem with M’s
Pimentel said among the problems that will be discussed in the meeting is the mechanics for choosing among the “overflowing applicants” of UNA.
“Let’s say you are now left with one slot and let’s say there are still 4 names: 3 non-party members and one party member so who do you prioritize? Of course, we should prioritize the party member.”
For the national level, Pimentel said the only problem so far is his objection to Zubiri and criticisms against the possible inclusion of Zambales Rep Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay.
The two have been tagged as allies of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“Ayaw yata namin ng letter M ang pangalan,” Pimentel said in jest. (It seems we don’t like those with names starting in M.)
Pimentel, however, clarified that he is not against Magsaysay. He said Magsaysay already expressed interest in being a member of PDP-Laban.
During the birthday party of Estrada last week, Rappler asked Zubiri if he had problems being in the same slate as Pimentel. (Watch the interview above.)
Zubiri laughed and responded, “Not with me.” – Rappler.com