MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has minimal involvement in the affairs of ruling party PDP-Laban.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, PDP-Laban president, said this on Wednesday, November 14, in Rappler’s TheLeaderIWant interview. Duterte is the chairman of the party.
“Hindi masyado kasi (Not much because) he’s running the country. As the father of the nation, kung puwede ngang minimal ang kanyang (if he can just have minimal) involvement in party matters. But whenever we invite him, he attends,” Pimentel said.
The senator, however, said Duterte was “heavily involved” in the selection of the party’s Senate lineup for the 2019 elections.
“But for the slate, itong PDP-Laban senatorial [slate], he was heavily involved, kaya na-limit (that is why it was limited) to 5 [candidates],” Pimentel said.
PDP-Laban has only 5 candidates, all party members, which Pimentel named MaBaGoKoTo:
Pimentel said there is no law that requires a party to field a full slate for the 12 Senate seats available. He, however, admitted that the party chairman wants a complete lineup.
“Nanghihinayang siya sa slots (He doesn't want the the slots to go to waste),” Pimentel said.
This is in stark contrast to how former president Benigno Aquino III was to the Liberal Party during his term. As de facto chairman, Aquino was involved in major decisions on local alliances and priority legislations, among others.
The ruling party is facing both internal and external challenges. (READ: PDP-Laban struggles for unity, survival ahead of 2019 polls)
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)
Aside from this, PDP-Laban struggles for unity, with the existence of the so-called rogue faction headed by Duterte’s classmate, lawyer Rogelio “Bicbic” Garcia.
A case is already pending before the Commission on Elections, after Garcia also issued party Certificates of Nomination and Acceptance (CONA) to candidates, including singer Freddie Aguilar. (READ: Comelec to 'quickly' resolve PDP-Laban row)
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, 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 email@example.com