Pimentel tells Roque: PDP-Laban can produce another president even with few members

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 15 2021 01:05 PM | Updated as of Jul 15 2021 04:39 PM

MANILA - Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III on Thursday slammed Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque for saying that PDP-Laban would only be left with a few members should it oust its chairman President Rodrigo Duterte.

Roque had issued the statement days after PDP-Laban expelled Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, the party's vice chairman, and 2 other officers for their alleged "disloyalty."

"Kung totoo nga na kami'y galing sa traysikel, 'di ba naka-produce kami ng presidente nung 2016? Eh 'di, uulitin natin," Pimentel, a longtime member of PDP-Laban and currently its executive vice chairman, told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

(If we really came from a tricycle, didn't we produce a president in 2016? We will repeat that.)

In 2016, PDP-Laban - which used to be smaller in terms of membership - defeated then-ruling Liberal Party as Duterte won the presidential race. The LP's bet was former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.

Duterte and his close allies in the party have been at odds with their acting president, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, easing out the latter from meetings a few months before the filing of the certificate of candidacy for the 2022 national elections.

Duterte and Pacquiao themselves are engaged in a word war after the latter criticized the administration for its "lacking" approach against China on the South China Sea issue, and the continuing corruption in government.

Pacquiao is currently in the United States to train for an upcoming boxing bout in August.

"Ang mga political party, parang behikulo 'yan, mga sasakyan," said Pimentel, whose father, the late former Senate President Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr., founded the PDP-Laban.

"Kung ang gusto pala nilang kandidato for 2022 bilang presidente ay may sarili nang sasakyan, bakit kailangan agawin ang sasakyan ng PDP-Laban? Eh, mayroon din naman kaming member, homegrown talent na gusto din namin i-push for president sa 2022," he said, without naming particular candidates. 

(If they want a candidate for president in 2022 with his or her own vehicle, why do they have to take ours? We have our own member, a homegrown talent that we want to push for president in 2022.)

A PDP-Laban resolution earlier accused Cusi of supporting Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who belongs to the regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP), as a possible candidate for the country's top post next year, while her father, President Duterte, is being urged to run for vice president. 

Pacquiao is known to be eyeing the presidency.

Pimentel told Roque, currently a member of the People's Reform Party, to stop insulting the party he wished to be a part of at least in the previous elections.

"Si Secretary Harry Roque, 'wag niyang insultuhin 'yung jeepney o traysikel na dating gusto niyang sakyan," Pimentel said.

"Nag-apply din siya eh," he said, referring to Roque's withdrawn Senate bid in 2019.

(Secretary Harry Roque should not insult a jeepney or tricycle that he wanted to ride. He applied, too.) 

Roque was not included in PDP-Laban's 2019 senatorial slate after Duterte said that his spokesperson was not fit for the Senate.

Roque said he and Pimentel had been friends since they were studying law at the University of the Philippines. The Palace official also mentioned that he supported the Pimentels in several elections. 

"I do not intend to belittle PDP-Laban," Roque said in a press briefing later Thursday. 

"I don’t think Koko Pimentel meant any harsh words for me because I refuse to believe that in the first place," he added. 

Roque said he has been a "card-bearing member" of the People’s Reform Party since 2019. 

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