Pimentel on leave: Where did that come from?

Ayee Macaraig

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Senator Koko Pimentel denies taking a leave of absence as president of PDP-Laban

WHAT LEAVE? Senator Koko Pimentel describes as baseless the announcement that he took a leave of absence as PDP-Laban President. Photo by Ayee Macaraig

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – “I don’t know where that came from.”

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III denied taking a leave of absence as president of Vice President Jejomar Binay’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban). Binay is chairman of PDP-Laban. 

In an interview with Rappler on Wednesday, August 29, Pimentel flatly denied the announcement of United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) spokesperson JV Bautista that he filed a leave of absence from the party because he is running with the administration’s senatorial slate for 2013. Watch here: 

Bautista made the announcement in an interview on ANC, the ABS-CBN News Channel, on Tuesday, August 28.

“I did not file any leave. I did not mention any intention of going on leave and Attorney JV Bautista does not hold any critical position in the party so I do not know what is his business making this announcement affecting the president of the party,” said Pimentel.

Pimentel said Bautista did not even consult him before making the announcement.

The senator is in a unique position as PDP-Laban president because he is running with President Benigno Aquino III’s senatorial slate.

PDP-Laban has partnered with former President Joseph Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) to form UNA, the rival of the administration coalition.

“The difficult becomes very complicated if they claim I have made an action or move which I have not made. May deception na doon. Mag-usap-usap kami. Talagang nakakalito na at magulo.” (There is already deception. We should talk among ourselves. It’s really confusing.)

Instead of taking a leave of absence, Pimentel said the solution he has in mind is to inhibit from all UNA and campaign-related matters.

“What is the problem with that? All parties have hierarchies. After the president comes the executive vice president. …. ‘Di ko maintindihan why we continue to divide the party in the process,” said Pimentel. (I don’t understand why we have to divide the party in the process.) 

Pimentel added, “So there is a solution but sowing an intrigue is not a solution especially if you make an announcement without bouncing it off the person concerned.” 

The senator admitted that he has not been in touch with Binay since bolting UNA in July.

Pimentel bolted UNA over the inclusion of resigned Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri in its senatorial slate. Pimentel filed an election protest against Zubiri over the 2007 polls, accusing him of cheating and depriving him of 4 years in the Senate.

‘Decent thing to do is take leave’

In a phone interview with Rappler, Bautista explained that he got the information that Pimentel was taking a leave of absence from PDP-Laban member and Manila City Councilor Bernie Ang. 

Bautista said that in a meeting at Binay’s office in the Coconut Palace last August 23, Ang told the Vice President that Pimentel offered to go on leave if he would accept it. Bautista said Binay accepted the offer.

Bautista said Ang got the information from Pimentel during a meeting of PDP-Laban leaders on August 20, where party leaders supposedly asked Pimentel to go on leave.

The UNA spokesperson accused Pimentel of flip-flopping but also acknowledged that there might have been miscommunication between both sides.  

Still, Bautista said it will be best for Pimentel to go on leave.  

“Koko has to break the impasse. How can he remain as PDP-Laban president and run under a different political [alliance]? That’s totally untenable and disruptive, causing confusion.”

Bautista said whatever the case is, Binay already resolved to actively take charge of PDP-Laban.

Pimentel later released a statement on the issue. Here is the senator’s full statement:

I wish to deny the statement made by the spokesperson of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), Atty. JV Bautista, that I have filed a leave of absence as President of PDP Laban. 

Such statement has no factual and legal basis.

I have not filed any leave of absence, whether verbal or written, and have no plan whatsoever to do so. No one has asked me to go on leave, except Atty. JV Bautista, who is a newcomer to the party. Even our Party Chairman Vice President Binay has not directly asked me to go on leave. I also do not feel any clamor from my party mates that I go on leave.

I want to believe that Atty. JV Bautista was just making a personal suggestion when he issued that statement.

Furthermore, the constitution and by-laws of our Party do not give any person or group of persons the power to force an officer of the Party to go on leave.

I strongly urge my party mates in PDP Laban to unite. We can find a solution to our problems without dividing the party. Instead of wasting our time issuing baseless statements and responding to false information, we can discuss this and find common ground.

For instance, I have already inhibited myself months ago from (UNA) coalition matters. I will continue to do so, especially when we get to the campaign period. I have in fact requested our Party Executive Vice President Joey de Venecia to handle all “coalition issues”. I can and will continue to handle all “party but non-coalition matters”.

I have been a member of the PDP Laban since 1982 and have invested my time, energy, resources, talent, sweat, tears, and blood in the Party, hence, I cannot just turn my back on my responsibilities as Party President. We have other work to do aside from campaigning, like membership expansion and chapter establishment, livelihood programs, continuing education of members, and other non-election matters that I have to attend to.

I call on my party mates to help me strengthen PDP Laban by continuously adhering to its five basic principles. 


View the Elections 2013 Microsite here. 

More from #PHVote, Rappler’s 2013 Election Coverage: 

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