MANILA, Philippines – Hundreds of members of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino - Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) gathered for a thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday, November 16, to celebrate their rise to power following the victory of President Rodrigo Duterte.
But at one table, a non-member – Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) – ate his dinner alongside PDP-Laban stalwarts Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
Pimentel said he invited Ejercito to come, but the latter’s party membership “is still in the future tense.”
“Si JV, Senator Ejercito, pinapunta ko na rito pero future tense pa ‘yung membership ni JV. Gusto niyang sumama sa amin. Ine-expose ko lang sa atin so he will see the PDP-Laban family,” said the Senate President in his speech.
(I asked Senator Ejercito to come here, but his membership is still in the future tense. He wants to join us. I’m only exposing him tonight so he will see the PDP-Laban family.)
Ejercito, however, already left the venue by the time Pimentel went on stage.
In a text message to Rappler, Ejercito said he was invited by Duterte and Pimentel to join the party.
“[I am] Not yet [a member], just a guest… for now,” said the senator, who is a known Duterte ally despite belonging to UNA.
Asked if he is inclined to accept the invitations of the President and the Senate President, Ejercito replied: “Maybe. Will give it a thought."