By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III admitted not including Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson in the shortlist of the ruling political party’s possible senatorial slate for the 2019 elections.
In an interview Thursday afternoon, Pimentel was asked on why Uson’s name was not among the personalities he had endorsed for the President Duterte’s consideration.
After a moment of silence, he answered, “Self-explanatory.”
Pimentel is president of the Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), which the Chief Executive chairs.
On Wednesday, he wrote to Duterte seeking his opinion on the 24 names being considered for the party’s “Magic 12.” He also asked for a meeting with the party chairman to prepare for the May 2019 polls.
When pressed to explain further, Pimentel instead told reporters to refer on the names in his letter in the meantime.
Uson did not make it to the PDP-Laban’s shortlist despite pronouncements from the party officials themselves that she will run for a Senate seat and will be part of their slate.
Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, the party’s secretary-general, first mentioned her inclusion in party’s senatorial slate during the mass oath-taking of PDP-Laban members in Cebu November last year.
Uson, in response to Alvarez’ announcement, said she has no plans to runs unless asked by President Duterte.
Duterte, later, in a speech in Hongkong last April, said he thinks she “is also running for senator.”
Pimentel said the PDP-Laban chose the 24 personalities based on their membership and service to the party, aside from their “winnability.”
He also stressed that the candidate should be supportive of the President, and the push for federalism. “Good” reputation was also considered, he said.
Alvarez was with him when the shortlist was being discussed, he said.
Pimentel, however, clarified that he did not say Uson’s reputation was not good, although he repeated that “she is not on the list.”
He said that the shortlist would still be reviewed by Duterte, who, he said, will have the final say as to who he would campaign. He said is open to discussing with the President should he pick Uson.
“But we are not limited to that names on the list, but she’s not on the list,” he said.
Uson recently found herself in hot water after she uploaded on her Facebook page a video discussing federalism, but featuring a lewd dance from her fellow blogger. Pimentel, a known federalism advocate, slammed Uson’s video.
When asked about his reaction on the PCOO memorandum reminding employees to observe proper decorum and gender-sensitivities in posting on social media, Pimentel, although in jest, said, “Oh you see? See, tama ako (I was right),” apparently referring to Uson’s non-inclusion in the PDP-Laban shortlist.