CEBU City Mayor Tomas Osmeña said that officials from PDP-Laban can just deny the question he raised for Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel if there’s no truth to it.
“We will let the people know that they don’t want to answer the question. All they have to do is to deny it (if it’s not true), but they’re not denying it so it shows there might be something,” he said.
In his news conference last Thursday, Osmeña said he wanted to ask Pimentel why PDP-Laban officials have to undergo a seminar by the Communist Party in China.
Since Pimentel was not in Cebu in yesterday’s mass oathtaking of officials under PDP-Laban, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez answered Osmeña on the senator’s behalf.
“Just ignore him. He is irrelevant,” Alvarez said.
“I don’t know where Osmeña stands. He has no concerns about the party because he is not a PDP-Laban member. He doesn’t know what he is talking about,” Alvarez said.
When Alvarez was asked what he would do as PDP-Laban secretary general if Osmeña decides to join PDP-Laban, he said he will refer the mayor to the membership committee.
In Cebu City, Vice Mayor Edgar Labella, an ally of Presidential Assistant Michael Lloyd Dino, is the PDP-Laban Cebu City chairperson.
Osmeña said it might be irrelevant for Alvarez but the development is a concern to him.
“He is entitled to his opinion and I’m just sharing with the Cebuanos and pointing out that they’re not denying it,” he said.
As for Michael Rama, Alvarez said the former Cebu City mayor must clear his name before joining PDP-Laban.
All of Rama’s political allies in Team Rama are now members of the ruling party, including Labella and Councilors Raymond Garcia, Joel Garganera, Jocelyn Pesquera, and Joey Daluz.
Alvarez said that the right authorities to clear officials of allegations of drug involvement are the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the police.
Alvarez said Rama must also seek an audience with President Rodrigo Duterte, bringing with him his PDEA and police clearance.
Other mayors who did not join PDP-Laban included Mayor Mariano Blanco III of Ronda and Mayor Vicente Loot of Daanbantayan.
Barug PDP-Laban councilors in Cebu City said that by being members of the political party of the president, more projects and programs can be expected for the city.
Councilor Garcia said their shift to PDP-Laban is advantageous to residents of the city.
“It’s very good for our constituents because at least, the President has partymates he can trust to implement his programs and projects,” he said.
For Councilor Phillip Zafra, jumping to PDP-Laban means supporting the administration of President Duterte in espousing their programs at the grassroots level.
“We have high hopes in the president and we’ve shared the same vision with him especially in the fight against illegal drugs. If you can see, genuine change is indeed happening now,” Zafra said.
Zafra, who is also the president of the Association of Barangay Councils in the city, said the president has the support of majority of barangay captains.
PDP-Laban is a merger of Partido ng Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP) of former Senate president Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. and Lakas ng Bayan (Laban) of the late senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.
PDP-Laban was the opposition to the defunct Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) of the late President Ferdinand Marcos during the Martial Law years.
Alvarez said all PDP-Laban seminars are based on the principles for the improvement of the living standard of the people.
For his part, Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III said he is not worried that he might lose the support of majority of the mayors in the Province after they jumped to PDP-Laban.
Davide reacted to a statement of suspended Toledo City Mayor Sonny Osmeña, who said Davide was “ill advised” when he allowed some of the mayors to jump to PDP-Laban.
But Davide said he has no right to stop the mayors from jumping to other political parties.
“This is a free country. I’m not the type of person who forces people to leave or let him stay in the party,” Davide told reporters yesterday.
Davide said he respects the opinion of the mayors if they plan to jump to other political parties.
“I draw confidence from the support of the Cebuanos. Call me naïve if you want, that I’m too trusting, that I’m overly trusting. I saw the sincerity of our mayors who asked my permission to leave for PDP-Laban and they assured me of their support for the next elections,” he said. (RVC, EOB, JKV)