PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday instructed the warring factions in his party, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), to unite and prepare for the 2019 elections.
“[The President said] that we should start preparing for the 2019 [polls]. The deadline is fast-approaching. Sabi nya (He said) he is duty-bound to help his party’s candidates,” PDP-Laban president and former Senate president Aquilino “Koko” L. Pimentel III said in a televised interview on Thursday evening at the Diamond Hotel in Manila after the party’s private meeting with the President.
Mr. Pimentel also said the President did not tackle the leadership row within the party. “This meeting is not a proper forum for a change in leadership,” the lawmaker said.
He added that Mr. Duterte said “if there are questions about the party processes or party leadership, publicly rebelling is not the way to do it.”
“[The President said] if there is a problem, let us talk,” Mr. Pimentel said.
In a text message to reporters on Friday, Mr. Pimentel said there will another “formal” meeting on “Sept. 1” this year.
He said the President stressed that “he requires two qualifications for PDP-Laban’s candidates [for the next elections]: competence and honesty.”
Whether the President reprimanded the PDP-Laban’s faction leader Rogelio Garcia for organizing last month’s unauthorized assembly in which he was elected as the party’s national president, Mr. Pimentel said: “No personal knowledge kasi di naman kami magkasamang kinausap (because [the President] talked to us separately).”
Asked if he would fight for his position, Mr. Pimentel said: “Di naman ako kapit-tuko sa position at titulo (I don’t cling to a position or a title).”
He added: “Wag naman yun shortcut at jackpot agad. Magbanat din po ng buto.” (There should not be any shortcuts. Work for it.)
For his part, Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said in an interview with DZRH that if it is not possible for the warring factions to unite, they can separate.
Kung talagang hindi kakayaning magkasundo ay puwede naman pong maghiwa-hiwalay. Pero ngayon po, ang sabi niya ay mag-usap muna ang lahat ng mga tao na nasa loob ng partido,” he said.
(If they cannot reconcile, they can separate. But for now, the President said the members of the party should talk first.)
Based on the photos provided by Special Assistant to President Christopher Lawrence T. Go to Palace reporters on Thursday evening, the President was welcomed by former Senate president Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. and his son, Koko. Other officials who attended the meeting were Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea, Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Francis N. Tolentino, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi, Interior Secretary Martin B. Diño, and Mr. Roque.
One picture also showed President Duterte talking to the group of Mr. Garcia. — Arjay L. Balinbin