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Duterte keeps open mind amid party squabble

Malacañang could not say if President Rodrigo Duterte would stay with the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP)-Laban or leave amid its current internal divisions.

“We have discussed this with the President, but I feel it’s premature to make any statement on this particular question,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Thursday.

“What the President said is that we will do this legally. So, let’s see what happens. If there is an intra-party dispute, then the Comelec will have jurisdiction to rule on it,” he added.

The Commission on Elections may step in to resolve the conflict within the ruling party, Malacañang said, as Duterte had expressed his desire to settle “legally” what he described as a “mess” between factions of the party that he chairs.

“Legally, there’s a procedure. If there’s an intra-party dispute, then the Comelec will have jurisdiction to rule on it,” Roque said.

He also could not say which political party the President would affiliate himself with in the event he pursued a vice presidential bid in the 2022 polls.

“Well, anything is possible,” Roque said, when asked if the President would run under PDP-Laban, which he chairs, or Hugpong ng Pagbabago, which is led by his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

The President met with his PDP-Laban party mates on Tuesday night at the Palace, but PDP-Laban stalwart and Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, who has expressed support for the 2022 presidential bid of Senator Manny Pacquiao, was not present.

PDP-Laban members who were present during the Palace meeting are pushing Duterte to run for vice president under PDP-Laban, as well as pick the party’s presidential bet for the 2022 elections.

Roque said the President recognized the leadership of PDP-Laban Vice Chair and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi but did not dismiss Pimentel.

In a related development, with Duterte’s sustained pronouncements on his vice-presidential bid in the next year’s national elections, the Anakpawis Party-list urged Thursday poor sectors to express its rejection and break out from being “victims of his systematic and cyclical mass deception schemes, all designed to keep power and to gather protection from suit after his term.”

“The Filipino people are not a race of idiots to fall for it again the second time around,” Ariel Casilao, Anakpawis Party-list National President, and former lawmaker, said in a press statement.

“The poor sectors have learned that Duterte’s presidency is a scam. He even promised ‘paradise,’ genuine agrarian reform, end of ENDO, end of demolition of urban poor communities, the pursuit of peace, better food prices and utilities, economy and more,” he said.

Gov’t priority

While the government’s priority is to address the COVID-19 pandemic, talks on politics cannot be avoided as 2022 national elections are fast approaching, Malacanang said.

Roque said Duterte’s meeting with PDP-Laban members on the government owned television channel PTV 4 did not mean that the administration was shifting to politics.

The Palace official said the Duterte administration was still focused on COVID 19, and it hasn’t changed.

“But what do you do? COVID-19 or not, elections are coming up so political parties have to prepare, and candidates will have to file their certificates of candidacy on the first days of October,” he added.

He also said that Duterte, being the party chairman, is considered a “political personality” and could not be separated from his official duties as the country’s chief executive.

Sotto and Lacson

Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Panfilo Lacson began a series of consultative meetings in Luzon on Thursday, about three months before the filing of certificates of candidacy for those vying for a post in the 2022 national elections.

The pair’s so-called “Tour of Luzon” began at the Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan, according to information from Sotto’s office.

A statement from Sotto’s office read: “Their version of the Tour of Luzon is meant to touch base with local government units, check their situations and get suggestions on their post-COVID-19 recovery plans for the country.”

Sotto said they would go around towns in Tarlac, Zambales on July 8, and proceed to Pangasinan and La Union on July 9. By Saturday, the duo will be making their rounds in Ilocos and in Cagayan.

The team is also “planning dates” for separate tours in Visayas and Mindanao, the Senate President said.

Presidential adviser

President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed former Negros Oriental congressman Jacinto “Jing” Paras as Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque confirmed the appointment of Paras on Thursday.

As political adviser, Paras has a rank of secretary and will be part of the Duterte Cabinet.

Prior to his appointment, Paras served as Presidential Assistant under the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office since 2020. He was previously designated Labor Undersecretary by President Duterte.

Paras was present during Thursday’s Palace briefing and was introduced by Roque as the “newly-appointed adviser for political affairs.”

“We have with us the newly appointed Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs, Secretary Jacinto Paras. Sec. Paras, congratulations,” Roque said.

Paras on Trillanes

Former senator Antonio Trillanes IV should drop his plan to seek a national post next year because Filipino voters do not consider him “a serious candidate”, newly-installed Presidential Adviser Jacinto "Jing" Paras said Thursday.

“Mr. Trillanes, you have nothing to say, and the people of this country does not consider you as a serious candidate in this election,” Paras said in a virtual press conference.

Paras made the statement, as he chided Trillanes for accusing Duterte and Senator Christopher Go of committing plunder.

Paras told the public to ignore Trillanes, as the latter was allegedly known to be a “liar” and “dumb”.

He also turned the tables on Trillanes, who he said was the “most corrupt” person for having “overpriced” consultants during his stint as senator.

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , Election , Partido Demokratiko Pilipino , Harry Roque
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