SIX personalities were yesterday introduced by the administration party, PDP Laban, as its senatorial candidates for the May 2019 polls.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvares, who is the party’s secretary general, made the announcement during the mass oath-taking of new PDP-Laban members in Cebu at Plaza Independencia in Cebu City.
He named the candidates as Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, Rep. Geraldine Roman of Bataan, Rep. Andy Benitez of Negros Occidental, Rep. Karlo Nograles of Davao City, and Presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino.
No Cebuano has been included in the initial lineup for the party’s senatorial candidates.
Deputy House Speaker Gwen Garcia, who was first rumored to run for senator, is reportedly groomed for governor with either Rep. Ramon “Red” Durano VI (Cebu’s fifth district) or Rep. Benhur Salimbangon (Cebu’s fourth district) as vice governor.
Alvarez said that the party needs senatorial candidates who come from the House of Representatives to help fast-track the passage of laws.
Alvarez said that the Lower House passed at least 110 bills since last year, but only 10 of these were passed into laws by the Senate.
In a statement, Uson said that she came to Cebu upon the invitation of Presidential Assistant Michael Dino. She said she was surprised when Alvarez announced her name as among the candidates for senators under PDP-Laban.
“I am thankful and flattered for being considered as a possible candidate, but at present I have no plan of running,” said Uson.
Meanwhile, seven of the 10 Cebuano congressmen took their oath of office as new members of the ruling PDP-Laban. They are Representatives Gerard Anthony Gullas (first district), Wilfredo Caminero (second district), Gwendolyn Garcia (third district), Benhur Salimbangon (fourth district), Jonas Cortes (sixth district), Raymond Calderon (seventh district) and Aileen Radaza of the lone district of Lapu-Lapu City.
Those who did not show up were Representatives Raul V. Del Mar (north district, Cebu City), Rodrigo Abellanosa (south district, Cebu City), and Ramon “Red” Durano II (fifth district).
Abellanosa already took his oath as PDP-Laban member in June 2016 after majority of Cebu City residents voted for Duterte during the May 9, 2016 presidential elections.
Durano said his group is supporting President Rodrigo Duterte, a relative, but they cannot take oath as PDP-Laban members because they have the Barug Alang sa Kauswagan ug Demokrasya (Bakud) party, which is registered under the Commission on Elections.
He said that Bakud may coalesce with PDP-Laban to solidify their support to Duterte.
Although Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza was present in yesterday’s event, however, he did not take oath because he is with the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines partylist.
“My presence here is a proof that I strongly support President Duterte,” said Mendoza.
Gullas said that his group decided to leave the Nacionalista Party (NP) and joined PDP-Laban “to unite their constituents for progress.” He said that he asked permission from Sen. Cynthia Villar of NP before the oathtaking ceremony.
Provincial Board (PB) Member Yolanda Daan said that she and PB Member Raul Bacaltos along with all the Cebu’s first district mayors, vice mayors and barangay officials joined PDP-Laban because of Gullas.
Daan said that while they pledged to support Gov. Hilario Davide III if he decides to seek a reelection in 2019, however, her group will still have to wait for Gullas’s decision on who will be the gubernatorial candidate that the congressman will endorse.
Mayor Cristina Garcia Frasco of Liloan town said that she brought 3,000 new PDP-Laban members to show support to Duterte.
For Cristina, daughter of Gwen,Duterte is the president who could stop the drug drug problem and could help uplift the living standard of the people.
Meanwhile, Gwen said that during her term as a governor, Cebu was the number one province in economy. However, of the 81 provinces in the country, Cebu slid down to number three in 2014, number 31 in 2015 and number 45 in 2016.
She believed that with Duterte and PDP-Laban as her allies, Cebu will be great again.
Salimbangon, on the other hand, believes in the rapid economic development under Duterte’s leadership of the party.
Calderon brought all the mayors from the seventh district upon the invitation of PDP-Laban leaders.
One Cebu secretary general Pablo John Garcia said that he is hopeful that the unity with PDP-Laban will continue.
Pablo John hopes that the intentions of those who shifted alliances from Liberal Party (LP) to PDP-Laban were not only for political convenience but for the good of their constituents.
Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, PDP-Laban Cebu City Chapter chairperson, said that he, together with Councilors Raymond Garcia, Joey Daluz, Jocelyn Pesquera and Joel Garganera, joined PDP-Laban for the good of their constituents.
“We are here to formalize our entry to PDP-Laban for further progress,” said Labella.