MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has invited to the campaign kickoff of the PDP-Laban several senatorial candidates who do not belong to the ruling party, his former top aide Bong Go said Wednesday.
The PDP-Laban will have its proclamation rally on Thursday, Feb. 13, in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan. This aims to formally kickstart the campaign of party members Go, former police chief Ronald dela Rosa, former presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino, Maguindanao Rep. Zajid Mangudadatu, and Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, the party’s president.
“Bukas definitely yung 5 PDP-Laban candidates pupunta, then he (Duterte) invited [singer] Freddie Aguilar to join the launching nung PDP, kasama ang ibang mga guest candidates ni Pangulong Duterte,” Go told reporters.
Aguilar, who campaigned for Duterte in the 2016 presidential elections, is also running for senator in the May 13 midterm polls.
(Tomorrow, the 5 PDP-Laban candidates will definitely be there, then he invited Freddie Aguilar to join the launching of the PDP-Laban slate, including his other guest candidates.)
Since Tuesday, Feb. 12, the start of the 3-month campaign period, the 5 PDP-Laban senatorial candidates have been joining other fellow Senate hopefuls in the sorties of the pro-administration coalition of Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP), a regional party formed by the President’s daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Aside from Aguilar, Go said the President also invited to tomorrow’s PDP-Laban campaign kickoff former senator and now Taguig Rep. Pia Cayetano, Sen. Cynthia Villar, and Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos.
Outside of his own political party PDP-Laban, Duterte has so far endorsed Marcos, Villar, Cayetano, Aguilar, Sen. Sonny Angara and half-brothers Sen. JV Ejercito and former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada.
The President is reportedly coming up with his own senatorial slate to be called Du It Pilipinas but this has yet to materialize even though the campaign season has already started.
ABS-CBN News asked PDP-Laban president Pimentel whether the party is amenable to inviting party outsiders to tomorrow's event, but the lawmaker has yet to respond as of posting time.
Go, nonetheless, said the party will accede to the President’s desire to have his “guest candidates” appear in tomorrow’s event.
“That has to be resolved first. Medyo may ano pa eh. Kasi yung iba rin sumasali rin. Pero I’m sure payag naman siya kapag si Presidente,” said Go, when asked whether the PDP-Laban agreed to such a setup. He did not name who from the PDP-Laban he was referring to.
(That has to be resolved first. Some want to join but I’m sure he will agree if it was the President who asked for it.)
HNP candidates include re-electionists Pimentel, Angara, Villar, and Ejercito, as well as Cayetano, Estrada, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., who are hoping to make a comeback in the upper chamber.
Completing the HNP slate are Tolentino, who lost in his 2016 senatorial bid, and Senate race newcomers Go, Dela Rosa, Mangudadatu, Marcos, and former journalist Jiggy Manicad.