PDP-Laban insists Koko on leave as president

By Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Aug 30 2012 07:17 PM | Updated as of Aug 31 2012 04:14 PM

Binay stopped moves to oust Pimentel, says Peping

MANILA, Philippines - Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) confirmed on Thursday that Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III is on leave as president of the political party following his decision to join the administration’s senatorial slate in the 2013 polls.

In a statement, PDP-Laban Secretary General Peping Cojuangco said Vice President Jejomar Binay will take-over Pimentel’s duties. He noted, however, that Pimentel will remain as the “nominal president.”

"We are thankful that (Binay) has accepted to this arrangement since Koko cannot attend to the party's commitment to UNA in the agreement with PMP which he himself signed," Cojuangco said.

He disclosed that certain officers had requested to oust Pimentel during a party meeting at the Coconut Palace last week, but Binay stopped the move.

"In fairness to the Vice President, he did not accept this suggestion and said the decision must come first from Koko," Cojuangco said.

The same officers, whom he refused to name, then requested that Binay should take over if Pimentel refuses to go on leave.

Pimentel says he's not on leave

Pimentel, however, still insists he is an active official of PDP-Laban.

In a statement posted on the Senate website also on Thursday, Pimentel denied an earlier statement made by United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) spokesman JV Bautista.

“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,” he said.

He even urged his party-mates to unite and find a solution “without dividing the party.”

Joey Salgado, spokesperson for the Vice President’s camp, confirmed that Binay has indeed taken over the duties of Pimentel.

He said an intermediary of Pimentel attended that luncheon meeting at the Coconut Palace, he told ABS-CBNnews.com. The intermediary went on to say that Pimentel has decided to go on leave.

In June, Pimentel decided to run for re-election without the help of the UNA after the latter included his rival former Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri in its line-up.

UNA is a coalition between PDP-Laban and former President Joseph Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino. Zubiri is one of the candidates of PMP in the UNA coalition.

Cojuangco said that even without Pimentel’s active participation, PDP-Laban and UNA will be the party to beat in the 2013 elections.

"Under the leadership of our chairman Vice President Binay, we are stronger than ever and remain united and strong," Cojuangco said.

"While the Vice President remains busy with his governmental duties, he laid out clear instructions for party members to continue all efforts to make our party stronger across the nation," Cojuangco added.