By Camille A. Aguinaldo
SENATE PRESIDENT Aquilino L. Pimentel III said the senatorial slate of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban) for the upcoming 2019 midterm elections would be finalized by September.“Definitely September, it’s final,” he said in an interview with reporters.
Mr. Pimentel, who is also PDP-Laban president, said he would reconcile the list of nominees for the lineup with the ruling party’s secretary-general House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez after the Lenten break. Both Messrs. Pimentel and Alvarez earlier bared their preferred senatorial candidates under the PDP-Laban banner, with the former taking in five reelectionist senators belonging to the Senate majority bloc.
Mr. Pimentel is seeking reelection in the midterm polls, along with majority bloc Senators Juan Edgardo M. Angara, Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay, Joseph Victor G. Ejercito, Grace Poe S. Llamanzares-Poe and Cynthia A. Villar. Senator Paolo Benigno A. Aquino IV, the lone reelectionist under the Senate minority bloc, has said he would be joining the “genuine opposition” senatorial slate.
The Senate leader also noted that President Rodrigo R. Duterte, being the ruling party’s chairman, would still have the last word on the senatorial lineup.
“The Speaker and I are working on coming up with a semi-final list. And then, of course, we will finalize it with the President,” he said.
“This is because we will ask his help campaigning for his people whom he will endorse and raise hands during the campaign. He will mention their characteristics and accomplishments. The President should be confident with the PDP-Laban lineup for senators,” he added in a mix of Filipino and English.
Asked if Mr. Duterte would actively participate in the campaign trail, Mr. Pimentel said, “I think he would love to campaign for his senatorial candidates.”
Aside from consultations with the party chairman, Mr. Pimentel said they would also conduct an internal survey to determine who among the nominees would have the “political strength” to win.
He added that the party would also examine the nominees’ track record as well as their support for the political party and its chairman, Mr. Duterte. He also reiterated that candidates under the PDP-Laban banner should be not against federalism, or should at least be open to the party’s advocacy, in order to have a unified message in the upcoming elections.
“When we are in the same stage campaigning in 2019, I hope that we will not be out of tune….My prediction is that, especially if the plebiscite is conducted at the same time with the elections, it will be a campaign issue or campaign topic. I hope we have one voice when it came to federalism,” Mr. Pimentel said.