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Ruling party execs regroup, close ranks

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In face of confusion over developments in the erstwhile ruling party PDP-Laban and other Duterte-allied parties, the former held a leadership assembly Thursday in Quezon City to iron out what was perceived as confusion by some officials.

PRESENT FISTS. Members of the ruling party PDP-Laban, led by former Senate president Aquilino Pimentel III and former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, gather Thursday at the Seda Hotel in Quezon City for what the party calls a leadership meeting.  Members thrust the now too familiar Duterte signature lunge, in an apparent gesture they are with the President.
Manny Palmero

Both former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte called for party unity amid the squabble, with the latter saying he “remains friends” with party mates even after his ouster as House leader by Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

In related developments:

• The group of Alvarez has elected a party-list lawmaker as the new minority leader, Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas said.

Fariñas said the 14-member Alvarez group at the Lower House elected Wednesday ABS Party-list Rep. Eugene de Vera as the new minority leader, replacing Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez.

Fariñas said De Vera should be recognized as the new minority leader since Suarez voted for the election of Arroyo as the Speaker.

–But Suarez shrugged off De Vera’s alleged taking over of his post, saying he would only give up the minority chairmanship once the Supreme Court had said so.

Suarez made the statement in response to Fariñas’ claim that he planned to challenge before the high court the minority squabble at the House if the controversy was not resolved in accordance with House rules.

“If I feel that I am not in a position anymore to lead the minority, then I will politely vacate my post if the court says so,” Suarez said.

“Maybe we can see some clearing if the Supreme Court releases a decision on this,” Suarez said.

Suarez appealed to his colleagues, especially those who are challenging his post, “to understand” the situation, and move on.

“Let us get back to work.  The House has nine months to go,” Suarez said.

Alvarez  himself had said he was not interested to be the new minority leader.

“Of course not,” Alvarez said at the sidelines of the PDP-Laban leadership assembly when asked if he was interested to take the position of Suarez following his ouster.

“We have no objections to De Vera as our minority leader,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez, Fariñas and 11 lawmakers have applied with De Vera to become members of the minority bloc. 

De Vera is the legitimate minority leader because he is the second ranking minority member—being a deputy minority leader—who abstained from voting for Arroyo, Alvarez’s group said.

Alvarez also said he had moved on and things are going well now following the ouster move against him on the day of the State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte last July 23.

“I am good, at peace and am able to sleep well,” Alvarez said, saying the “pain” lasted for only a day.

Alvarez also said he did not feel betrayed when many whom he considered allies had supported Arroyo even as he said he was grateful that there were some who remained loyal to him.

This developed as Alvarez refused to comment on the idea of some lawmakers that Arroyo should be tapped as the new secretary general of the President’s PDP Laban.

Alvarez, secretary general of the PDP-Laban, said:  “We will see.  The political party has to discuss this.”

Alvarez earlier urged his fellow lawmakers and the public to go back to work and move on from his ouster as Speaker.

 Alvarez told those who attended the assembly that he would relay to Duterte the concerns aired by them.

During the forum, one local politician relayed her confusion over the ties between between PDP-Laban and other Duterte-allied parties, like Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago  and a supposed group of Secretary Christopher Go, the President’s close aide.

Their opponents, she said, were joining HNP and Go’s group which was not identified, leading to confusion and apprehension. 

Pimentel himself said he was surprised to know about Go’s supposed group. He also said there was no formal agreement with HNP, so far, but the party would look into it.


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