Liberal Party willing to 'adopt' Pimentel-A A +A
Friday, June 29, 2012
MANILA (3rd Update, 3:10 p.m.) -- The ruling Liberal Party (LP) expressed willingness to adopt Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III as its candidate for the 2013 senatorial elections, a party spokesman said Friday.
House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III, spokesperson for the LP, said Pimentel is welcome in the administration ticket for next year's polls after he announced Thursday that he is leaving the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
UNA is a coalition of former President Joseph Estrada's Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino and Vice President Jejomar Binay's Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
"His name (Pimentel) was earlier mentioned as a candidate for the administration. I believe he is one of the priorities for the slate," Tañada said.
After meeting with Estrada, Pimentel announced on his official Twitter account that he has officially declined the nomination of UNA but said he will not leave PDP-Laban, his original party.
Pimentel's decision to leave UNA was triggered by the coalition's decision to keep his bitter rival former senator Juan Miguel Zubiri in its senatorial line-up.
The senator accuses Zubiri of being a benefactor of the alleged vote rigging activities of the Arroyo administration in Mindanao during the 2007 senatorial polls.
Zubiri won the 12th and last seat in 2007 by just over 20,000 votes against Pimentel, who then took his case to the Senate Electoral Tribunal where he proved that he was cheated of victory especially in vote-rich areas in Mindanao.
This paved the way for Zubiri's resignation in August last year when the poll tribunal's recount had Pimentel winning.
Tañada, who is also planning to run for senator under the LP, said Pimentel would be a "good addition" to the administration slate.
"LP and PDP-Laban are not strange bedfellows. LP and PDP-Laban have worked together. In 1992, the two parties were in a coalition when then Senator (Jovito) Salonga of LP and Koko's father, then Senator Aquilino 'Nene' Pimentel Jr. ran for president and vice president, respectively," Tañada said.
"We are interested to see Senator Koko Pimentel join the ranks of the administration Senate slate. The LP and PDP-Laban go way back," Budget Secretary Butch Abad said in a television interview Friday.
"We are open, if he is interested. We just gave him time to sort out his situation with UNA. Now that he has made up his mind, there is room for talks and that will happen soon," Abad, who is the former president of LP, added.
In a text message, President Benigno Aquino III's political adviser Ronald Llamas also said Pimentel would be a great addition to the administration party since the lawmaker shares the advocacies and principles of the President.
"The administration will always be open for Senator Pimentel. He and the President clearly share the same advocacies and principles especially against electoral fraud, impunity and the promotion of a more credible and transparent electoral system," Llamas said.
Despite his decision to bolt the coalition, party officials said Pimentel can still count on the support of UNA.
Former senator Ernesto Maceda and Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile made separate assurances on Friday to support Pimentel's candidacy next year.
"We respect Senator Koko's decision. His adherence to principle is admirable," Maceda said.
As a friend, Enrile said Pimentel can always rely on his endorsement.
"If he needs my help, I will endorse him to my voters in my province. I don't see any problem for someone to endorse a candidate outside the party," he told reporters.
So far, UNA has seven senatorial bets, namely: Joey de Venecia, Cagayan Representative Juan Ponce "Jack" Enrile, Senator Gregorio Honasan, San Juan City Representative Joseph Victor Ejercito, Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, Zambales Representative Mitos Magsaysay, and former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, whom Pimentel accused of benefiting from the supposed manipulation of the 2007 poll results especially in Maguindanao. (Kathrina Alvarez/Jill Beltran/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)