Davao City―President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday praised the initiative of his daughter, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, for founding a regional party to support his administration but stopped short of endorsing her for a national post in the midterm elections in 2019.
“I appreciate what Inday (Sara) is doing,” he said during the mass oath-taking of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago in Davao City, a regional party.
Duterte, chairman of the ruling party PDP-Laban, was previously reported he would take his oath as a member of the regional party but no such thing happened Friday.
He said what his daughter was doing was good since most of the big political parties had some groupings like his mother party, PDP-Laban.
“I do not want to make anybody uncomfortable here. PDP Laban is a party of principle. My advice to everybody is to connect with your mother unit. Whichever you are comfortable [in],” he said.
In a related development:
• Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said, “there is absolutely no conflict in President Rodrigo Duterte joining the Hugpong Ng Pagbabago...”
In a statement, Pimentel said the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, which counts Duterte as chairman, is a national political party while HNP is a regional party.
A PDP-Laban member can take his or her oath as a member of the HNP with no problem, he said.
HNP had earlier forged an alliance with seven local political parties from different parts of the country, and the Nacionalista Party led by Senator Cynthia A. Villar, but not with PDP-Laban due to an internal conflict within the ruling party.
Also on Friday, Sara Duterte endorsed the candidacies of nine politicians for the 2019 senatorial elections.
During a gathering in Davao―which the President also attended―Duterte’s daughter endorsed Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, presidential spokesman Harry Roque, Senators Cynthia Villar, JV Ejercito, and Sonny Angara, Rep. Pia Cayetano, Rep. Zajid Mangudadatu, and Bureau of Corrections chief Ronald dela Rosa, the former national police chief.
Duterte’s son, former Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, likewise pledged allegiance to the HNP.
Sara Duterte said it will only forge an alliance with the PDP-Laban once it has solved its internal problems.
“We would like to have an alliance with PDP but our governors and officers said during our discussions that they should first fix their internal problem,” she said.
“So once their president fixes the problem, then we really are open because we need other national parties as allies,” she added.
The ruling party has been embroiled in various controversies such as the power grab in the House of Representatives that led to the ouster of Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez as Speaker.
Meanwhile, a group that claimed to be “genuine party members” recently elected a new set of leaders, replacing Pimentel as party president.
Pimentel refused to accept that there was a problem within his own party, however, saying this was a figment of the imagination of some people.
“We know its political season already. Hence PDP-Laban should not allow itself to be distracted by all this noise, maneuverings and psywar tactics,” said Pimentel.
Earlier, Pimentel took potshots at Rogelio Garcia, elected president by what he referred to as “rogue members” of their party.
While insisting that he has no plan of tightly clinging to his current position, Pimentel accused Garcia of trying to reap what he did not sow.
Garcia, who has never won an elective post, was elected as president of the PDP-Laban during a gathering of his supporters at the Amoranto Stadium in Quezon City recently.
Also on Friday, Davao del Norte Gov. Anthony del Rosario said there would be no conflict if President Duterte to decides to join his daughter’s regional party.
Del Rosario, secretary general of HNP, said members of national parties are allowed to join them.
Duterte said he could support politicians seeking for his help but it would only be limited to moral support. If ever they need money for their campaign, they should go to their mother unit instead of him.
A total 6,276 politicians in Davao City pledged allegiance to the HNP with the governors of Davao Occidental, Governor Claude Bautista, Davao del Norte Governor Anthony del Rosario, Compostela Valley Governor Tyrone Uy and Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang.
During the mass oath taking, Mayor Duterte asked all the local officials to also show their support to the senatorial line up of HNP.
“Let us give them our full support for next year,” she added.
Mayor Duterte added the HNP senatorial line up were chosen since they saw something in them that could help the Duterte administration.
Mayor Duterte then thanked all the people who attended the mass oath taking, saying she was not expecting an overwhelming crowd since when HNP started they have not heard of anyone in Davao City who wished to join their regional party.
Meanwhile, almost eight months after he resigned as Vice Mayor of Davao, the eldest son of President Duterte, Paolo, made a public appearance and pledged allegiance to the party of his younger sister, Mayor Duterte.
“I strongly support Hugpong ng Pagbabago, the regional political party founded by my sister, Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte. I believe in the principles of HNP and its aspirations to establish a strong and competitive Davao Region resonate significantly with many political leaders,” Paolo said.
He said that he was willing to go back to public service if the people of Davao City needed his services.