Pimentel to PNoy: I’m joining your slate

Ayee Macaraig

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Senator Koko Pimentel announces he is joining the administration slate

'AT HOME.' Senator Koko Pimentel says he feels at home and welcome in President Aquino's 2013 senatorial ticket. File photo from Sen Pimentel's Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – Two months after saying he is “up for adoption,” Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III has found a home.

Pimentel confirmed that he is joining the administration’s 2013 senatorial slate after bolting Vice President Jejomar Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

In a phone interview, Pimentel told Rappler that he briefly met with President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday, August 16, at the sidelines of the posthumous awarding of Fernando Poe Jr as National Artist in Malacañang.

Pimentel said he told Aquino, “Thank you, Mr President, for inviting me [to your slate]. I would like to tell you I have a debt of gratitude to you because under your term, I obtained justice in my electoral protest.”

Asked what the President told him in reply, Pimentel said, “He just smiled and nodded.” 

The senator clarified that he retains his membership in the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) of which he is president. Pimentel said he will only be a guest candidate of the administration coalition.

Pimentel said Liberal Party (LP) members Quezon Rep Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III and Sen Francis Pangilinan talked to him to invite him to the slate. He also said he read the pronouncements of LP stalwart Budget Secretary Florencio Abad that he is welcome to join the coalition.

The senator said he earlier talked to Aquino in June during the Vin d’honneur celebration of Philippine Independence Day in the Palace. Pimentel said Aquino told him, “You will always have a home here.”

‘No need to inform Binay, Erap’

Pimentel was initially a senatorial candidate of Binay’s UNA but he left the coalition in June over the inclusion of resigned Sen Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri in UNA’s senatorial ticket.

Pimentel filed an electoral protest against Zubiri over the 2007 polls, accusing him of cheating. The senator was only able to assume his Senate post last year, when the Senate Electoral Tribunal declared him the winner of the protest. Zubiri resigned days before this. 

UNA is a coalition of Binay’s PDP-Laban and former President Joseph Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) for the 2013 senatorial polls. 

Asked if he informed Binay and Estrada that he is joining the administration slate, Pimentel said he saw no need to do so.

“I already informed them when I declined UNA’s nomination.”

‘Admin shortlist down to 13’

Pimentel added that he knows the administration coalition is trying to trim down its list of 13 potential senatorial bets. There are only 12 slots in the senatorial race.

The LP earlier said it is choosing among 16 names. The administration coalition includes the LP, the Nacionalista Party (NP) of Sen Manny Villar, and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).

“The President said the ticket is about to be finalized, by September definitely because the filing of certificates of candidacy starts October 1. And then I think he is excited to campaign for us because he said is already composing his endorsement speech for his slate,” Pimentel told reporters in the Palace. – Rappler.com 

View the Elections 2013 Microsite here. 

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