PDP-Laban: Fielding 5 Senate bets not a sign of weakness

Camille Elemia
It's a strategic decision, says PDP-Laban president Senator Aquilino Pimentel III

SENATORIAL POLLS. Senator Aquilino Pimentel III says it was PDP-Laban's strategic decision to field only 5 out of 12 candidates. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – They are fielding only 5 senatorial candidates in the May 13 elections, but ruling party PDP-Laban denied it is a sign of weakness for them.

“Strategic decision para mauna, mas madaling dalhin. If we win 5 out of 5, 100% ang aming batting average,” said Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, PDP-Laban president, in an interview on Bottomline with Boy Abunda on Saturday, February 2.

(It was a strategic decision so it’s easier to carry. If we win 5 out of 5, that means we have a 100% batting average.)

The 5 PDP-Laban bets are Pimentel, President Rodrigo Duterte’s close aide Bong Go, Maguindanao 2nd District Representative Zajid Mangudadatu, former Philippine National Police chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, and former presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino.

In his Bottomline interview, Pimentel added they did not want to field candidates who will end up losing. It is unfair to these bets, he added, if their first foray into politics will end up negatively.

“Kung pinilit namin mag-12 and unknown ‘yung iba, uphill fight. Unfair sa kanila kasi nirereserba namin sila sa future. Ito’y mga nirereserbang youngblood for future senatorial elections. Ayoko magsimula sila ng national political career na talo,” he said.

(If we forced ourselves to field 12 and some of them are unknown, it will be an uphill fight. It’s unfair to them because we want to reserve them for the future. They’re youngblood that we’re reserving for future senatorial elections. I don’t want them to start their national political career on a losing streak.)

Traditionally, however, ruling parties field a complete slate composed of members and alliances. PDP-Laban earlier floated at least 24 names but ended up with only 5.

Asked if PDP’s failure to field a 12-member lineup is a sign of weakness, Pimentel said: “No, it’s a strategic decision. Sinadya po namin ‘yun (We consciously made it that way).”

While PDP-Laban is considered the ruling party, local and national politicians are flocking to presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio’s regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP). In fact, President Rodrigo Duterte, chairman of PDP-Laban, is also supporting HNP. (READ: Duterte vows to help Sara’s party, sticks with PDP-Laban)

HNP is endorsing its own slate with 14 candidates – way higher than the 12 senatorial seats up for grabs. These candidates include the 5 PDP-Laban bets.

While this is the case, Pimentel had said that PDP-Laban and HNP are not “competitors,” as they are under the same umbrella of organizations supporting the President. (READ: PDP-Laban struggles for unity, survival ahead of 2019 polls)

The Commission on Elections has set the start of the national campaign on Tuesday, February 12. Several sources told Rappler that PDP-Laban will join Carpio’s HNP for the campaign launch. – Rappler.com

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