Koko Pimentel dropped from Hugpong ng Pagbabago sample ballot

Pia Ranada
Koko Pimentel dropped from Hugpong ng Pagbabago sample ballot

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Sara Duterte admits they only put 12 names on the sample ballot. Koko Pimentel, in response, says he still wants to thank Hugpong ng Pagbabago for their time together on the campaign trail.

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III’s name is not on the sample ballot distributed by Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) to Davao Region voters.

A soft copy of the sample ballot was given to Rappler by HNP secretary-general Anthony del Rosario on election day, Monday, May 13.

The sample ballot does not bear any HNP markings. It lists only 12 senatorial candidates. All of HNP’s candidates are included, save for Pimentel.

Image from HNP secretary-general Anthony del Rosario

HNP chairperson Sara Duterte admitted to Rappler that not all HNP-backed bets are on their sample ballot, but she didn’t say who was left out.

“Twelve lang ‘yun (It has only 12),” she said.

Sara said she voted for 12 senatorial candidates, but declined to mention names.

“Of course, 12 lang ang binoto ko. May secrecy of the ballot (Of course, I voted for only 12. There is secrecy of the ballot),” she told reporters after casting her vote at the Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School.

When Rappler asked why HNP’s sample ballot did not include Pimentel’s name, all she said was, “No comment.”

On Facebook, Pimentel shared a screenshot of Rappler’s post about the sample ballot and said: “In spite of this development, I still want to thank HNP and Mayor Inday Sara Duterte for allowing me to campaign with them for the entire 90 days. God bless us all.”

There had been some talk of Sara’s lukewarm regard for Pimentel after she failed to mention his name during several HNP campaign rallies.

But she had said during the campaign that these incidents were just honest mistakes since she did not carry a written list of HNP candidates as she made her endorsement speeches.

HNP had caused confusion, even earning some derision, for its endorsement of 13 senatorial candidates – one name more than the maximum 12 Senate seats up for grabs.

HNP-backed candidates, including Go and Pimentel, had often devoted a portion of their campaign rally speeches to remind voters to choose only 12 out of the 13 candidates being presented to them.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who backed Pimentel as the first Senate president of his administration, is also expected to vote.

“Sayang din boto niya (His vote will be wasted), so I will remind him to vote,” said Sara.

Pimentel, president of Duterte’s national political party PDP-Laban, is part of PDP-Laban’s 5-person Senate slate. He is also included in President Duterte’s personal Senate slate.

Federalism is one of Pimentel’s major advocacies. Sara, meanwhile, has said she opposes a shift to a federal system of government.

Another key player here is Del Rosario himself. The Davao del Norte governor is cousins with President Duterte’s biggest campaign donor Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo Jr who has become an enemy of PDP-Laban secretary-general Pantaleon Alvarez.

Floirendo had been expelled from PDP-Laban under Alvarez and Pimentel’s leadership of the party. Alvarez is also running for Davao del Norte 1st District representative against Del Rosario. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.