By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III lauded the Commission on Election’s (Comelec) recognition of his leadership in the Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
The Comelec, in a resolution signed this week, settled the dispute between the warring factions in the ruling political party ahead of the May 2019 midterm elections.
The poll body affirmed the legitimacy of Pimentel’s group over the group of Rogelio “Bicbic” Garcia, who claimed that he was elected as the ruling party’s new leader during a national assembly in July.
The Comelec said it took judicial notice that Pimentel was the one authorized to submit the party’s documents during the 2016 national elections.
“The Commission still maintains its recognition of the officers of Pimentel Group as PDP-Laban’s legitimate officers authorized to act for and in behalf of PDP-Laban,” read part of the resolution, which was signed by Comelec Chairman Sheriff M. Abas and five other commissioners.
“I am happy that the true leadership of PDP-Laban has been recognized and preserved by the Comelec,” Pimentel, PDP-Laban president said in a statement on Friday afternoon.
Since the Comelec favored the sworn information statements and list of authorized signatories he filed for next year’s elections, Pimentel said this would mean that all nominations coming from Garcia’s group are also illegitimate and unauthorized.
“Hence, they cannot be considered by the Comelec as PDP-Laban official candidates and they should also not present themselves to the electorate as such! If they continue to do so then they are deceiving the electorate,” the reelectionist senator said.
Among the candidates nominated by the Garcia group for the 2019 polls was singer-composer Freddie Aguilar. Aguilar, in filing his candidacy for senator in October, claimed to be running under PDP-Laban banner.
Pimentel had denied that their party issued a certificate of nomination and acceptance (CONA) for Aguilar. Despite this, President Duterte, who is PDP-Laban chair, later endorsed Aguilar.
Pimentel had called Garcia’s wing was “rogue,” saying some were expelled members, while other were nonmembers of the administration party.
With the Comelec’s ruling, Pimentel asserted that Garcia cannot just “power grab” and should follow the political party’s rules.
“The Comelec has been recognizing who the PDP- Laban leaders are for years already. If these people are to be changed then change them properly, that is in accordance with your party constitution. A power grab even if covered by media cannot officially change the leadership of a political party from the point of view of the Comelec. ‘Cause rules have to be followed. Otherwise we become a banana republic,” he said.