PDP-Laban’s Senate slate to rely on Duterte popularity, party machinery

Camille Elemia
PDP-Laban’s Senate slate to rely on Duterte popularity, party machinery
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III believes PDP-Laban senatorial candidates have no disadvantages in the 2019 elections

MANILA, Philippines – The 5-member senatorial slate of ruling party PDP-Laban  is relying on the popularity of party chairman President Rodrigo Duterte, as well as the party machinery, to win in the 2019 elections.

Asked about it, PDP-Laban president and Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said the slate – MaBaGoKoTo, named after the senatorial candidates – has a lot of advantages and no handicap.

Wala eh. Kaya nga we are excited to start the campaign (There are no disadvantages. That is why we are excited to start the campaign),” Pimentel said during Rappler’s The Leader I Want interview on Wednesday, November 14.

Pimentel said the candidates would benefit from the President’s high ratings, as well as the party’s “extensive machinery.”

“Well number 1 [advantage] is the extensive party machinery because the party grew under the administration of President Duterte. Number 2, the identification with the very popular incumbent President,” Pimentel said in a mix of English and Filipino.

The senator is also confident that the team, led by neophyte Senator Manny Pacquiao and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi as campaign managers, would focus on issues – something that the public now desires, he said.

“Number 3, this campaign team led by Senator Pacquiao and Secretary Cusi. Number 4, the fact na ang PDP-Laban sanay kami na issues-based. Advantage po ‘yun sa tingin ko kasi hinahanap na ng taumbayan ngayon issues na (that PDP-Laban is used to an issues-based campaign. I think that is an advantage because the people now are looking at issues),” he added.

Pimentel, however, was quick to say that the party would still use old campaign tricks, such as song and dance intermission numbers.

PDP-Laban has only 5 candidates, all party members, whom Pimentel named MaBaGoKoTo after: Maguindanao 2nd District Representati Zajid Mangudadatu, former top cop Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Duterte close aide Bong Go, Pimentel, and former presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino.

Pimentel said there is no law that requires a party to field a full 12-seat slate but he admitted that Duterte wants a complete lineup. He has yet to give a definitive schedule on finalizing the complete slate.

Duterte, HNP factors

As for the President’s participation, Pimentel said they would ask him to join the campaign, especially in major rallies nationwide. (READ: Duterte has ‘minimal involvement’ in PDP-Laban affairs)

“I wil suggest to our campaign managers to ask the President to campaign with us…to physically be present especially in the big rallies. Tulong-tulong lang (We should help each other),” he said.

While the President is chairman of PDP-Laban, his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duerte, formed Hugpong ng Pagbabago. The regional party is endorsing its own senatorial slate, which carries the 5 PDP-Laban candidates and other allies. Duterte is also supporting HNP. (READ: Duterte vows to help Sara’s party, sticks with PDP-Laban)

Pimentel reiterated that PDP-Laban and HNP are not “competitors,” as they are under the same umbrella of organizations supporting the President.

Pimentel said HNP’s existence does not affect the ruling party but he was also quick to say that the ruling party would soon have to coordinate with HNP.

“It has not affected us but moving forward this is the plan: PDP-Laban would have to coordinate with HNP…. We are 5 but we can expand it to a maximum of 12. But to expand 5 to 12, we have to corordinate with HNP and the President himself…. We expect the President to raise the hands of senatorial candidates,” he said.

So far, HNP has two lists of senatorial candidates – an 8-member national lineup and a longer one, a 14-member slate, for the Davao region. However, only 12 slots would be filled in the 2019 elections. (READ: Why Davao’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago has 2 Senate slates for 2019– 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