MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said on Friday, at the oath-taking rites for new members of the political party PDP-Laban that he wants Harry Roque and Mocha Uson in the party’s senatorial slate for the 2019 elections.
“Roque is intelligent and Uson has a genuine heart for the Filipino people,” Alvarez told InterAksyon.com in a text message when asked why he wants to include the two in the ruling party’s prospective lineup.
Roque was serving his term as congressman representing the partylist Kabayan when he was appointed spokesperson of President Rodrigo Duterte last month, while Uson is Presidential Communications assistant secretary.
The party president, however, Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, clarified in a text message to journalists: “Mocha and Harry cannot be considered yet as party senate bets for 2019. They may be called ‘speaker’s nominees’. The party will decide in due time.”
Later, Pimentel sent a longer statement, apparently in a bid to soften the tone of the original terse reply, and dash speculation that party leaders – he is party president and Alvarez, secretary general – are already squabbling over the 2019 ticket.
Yet his message remained the same: All lists are preliminary and final decisions will be made by the party membership, led by its chairman President Duterte; and final slates will be announced close to the deadline for filing certificates of candidacy (COC) for the 2019 midterm elections.
‘All lists are preliminary’
Here’s Pimentel’s longer message sent to reporters about half an hour after his first reaction: “It [Alvarez’s] is a good list. Once I join them in that list it becomes a mix of ‘old and new faces.’ What’s important is for the PDP Laban slate to bring the party ideology into senate priorities and enacted measures, especially federalism. In the meantime let us consider the names announced by the Speakers as his nominees. But they have a very strong backer within the party, hence we can expect party members to, in due time, confirm their candidacies. But we have to involve the entire party membership including party chair Pres. Duterte in the decision-making process. We will announce the final slate in due time (one or two months before deadline for filing COC). In the meantime all lists are preliminary.”
Alvarez, who is PDP-Laban’s secretary general and campaign manager, made the announcement earlier in the day in Cebu during the oath taking of the party’s new members there.
Roque and Uson were the most recent addition to the likely PDP-Laban slate, which Alvarez had earlier declared counts Davao Rep. Karlo Nograles, Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez, Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and former Metro Manila Development Authority Francis Tolentino, who had ran in 2016 but did not make it to the top 12.
From among the names mentioned, only Fariñas, so far, has expressed disinterest in running.
Alvarez earlier said the party can fill up the 12 slots because there are more than enough aspirants for the Senate seats.
Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin quipped in: “It’s a ‘dream slate’ every politician wants the public to know before they sleep. But again, it’s too early for sending voters in 2019 to dreamland especially that people’s daily woes on traffic, MRT breakdowns, unemployment, rising inflation, EJKs make their day. But some people in power just can’t resist to make politics their daily fare.
“Be that as it may and with due respect to incumbent House colleagues who are doing well, I think we should focus on doing our jobs to serve the people. A spinmeister has to decline the offer now or be seen as using his position to promote himself. A ‘fake news’ master has no business peddling lies and vitriol in the Senate.”
Mocha: ‘Nagulat po ako. Hindi ko ito alam; hindi pinag-usapan’
For her part, Mocha had this to say, as extracted from her Facebook post:
“Una po sa lahat, we attended the oath taking of the new PDP Laban members upon the invitation of Presidential Assistant for Visayas, Michael Diño. Walang kahit anong political intention on my part sa pag punta doon.
Kaya nagulat po ako ng sinasabi nila na inanunsyo raw po ni Speaker Alvarez na ako ay tatakbo bilang Senador, HINDI KO PO ITO ALAM AT HINDI NAMIN ITO PINAG USAPAN.”
Here, below is a screen capture of the Mocha Uson demurrer: