Alvarez tells re-electionist senators: Back federalism before joining PDP slate

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 26 2018 05:51 PM | Updated as of Mar 26 2018 07:45 PM

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. File photo

MANILA - House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Monday told senators who want to seek reelection under the administration party to first back federalism, the party's chief advocacy under the administration.

Alvarez, who is also secretary general of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP), however, left the final decision of who gets included in the administration slate to President Duterte, who is their chairman.

"Ang PDP kasi yung administration ngayon ay isa sa mga talagang advocacy ng PDP ay pagpopromote ng federalism so siguro para sa akin yun ay napakahalagang first requirement para masama ka sa administration slate, mapabilang ka sa hanay ng PDP kasi awkward naman pagka nasa entabldao kayo na hindi kayo magkasama sa adbokasiya," he told ABS-CBN News.

Over the weekend, Senate President and PDP President Aquilino Pimentel III told ANC in an interview that 5 re-electionist senators "who have been very supportive of the President's legislative agenda"-- Grace Poe, Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Cynthia Villar and JV Ejercito--are being considered for inclusion in the PDP slate.

"The Speaker has his support in the House. I also have my support in the Senate. I have my own majority group in the Senate... I must give credit where credit is due," he said.

"The basic difference [from Alvarez's lineup] is that I have in addition to existing party-mates, I also included the members of the Senate majority who are re-electionists," Pimentel added.

The PDP president emphasized that the party's lineup is not yet final. They hope to resolve it soon with the participation of Duterte.

Pimentel himself had said that PDP candidates must back federalism. "You cannot be a member of PDP Laban, much less a candidate of the party, and not support one of its core tenets"

Previously, Ejercito revealed their group is talking to Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte who has put up a regional political party, Hugpong sa Pagbabago, for the 2019 mid-term elections.

Last Saturday in Zamboanga del Sur, Alvarez urged new PDP members to vote for the party's senatorial bets in the 2019 polls and reject others, particularly those who do not support federalism.

Aside from the previous names that Alvarez endorsed as possible senatorial candidates of the ruling party, he also urged the new PDP members to support Rep. Pia Cayetano and Cynthia Villar in their senatorial bid. The two lawmakers are both from the Nacionalista Party.

"They are not members of the party but they are very supportive of the President," Alvarez said in a press briefing at the Molave Municipal Hall.

But before endorsing Cayetano and Villar, Alvarez stressed the need to support the party's own senatorial candidates in 2019.

Among the names mentioned by Alvarez as possible members of the PDP senatorial ticket are incumbent lawmakers such as Senate Pres. Aquilino Pimentel III and Reps. Zajid Mangudadatu, Karlo Nograles, Alfredo "Albee" Benitez, and Geraldine Roman. The name of Rep. Reynaldo Umali had been floated too earlier as possible member of the PDP senatorial ticket.

From the Executive department, Alvarez named Special Presidential Assistant Christopher "Bong" Go, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, PCOO Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson and Presidential Political Adviser Francis Tolentino.

"But the one who would determine the final list of the administration's senatorial ticket is of course President Duterte," Alvarez clarified.

Ejercito welcomed Pimentel's statement, saying "[t]he senators belonging to the FORCE have been working hard to champion the administration's agenda on infrastructure, education illegal drugs, corruption, among others. 

"Our hard work is motivated by public interest not partisan politics. I welcome SP Koko (Pimentel's) public expression of support for the FORCE," he said in a statement.

Its a sentiment shared by Angara, saying: "We thank him for that statement since we have been supportive of his leadership and of the administration's initiatives."