Go high on the list of senatorial bets
SPECIAL Assistant to the President, Christopher Lawrence Go and several Duterte allies in the House of Representatives will be part of administration’s senatorial slate for the 2019 mid-term elections, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said Tuesday.
Aside from Go, Alvarez said the ruling Partido Demokratiko’s senatorial lineup will also include Representatives Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro, Zajid Mangudadatu of Maguindanao, Alfredo Benitez of Negros Occidental, Karlo Nograles of Davao City and Geraldine Roman of Bataan.
Alvarez said PDP needs new senators to support the legislative agenda of the Duterte administration in the Senate.
“We [in the House] have passed a lot of bills but many are still pending in the Senate,” Alvarez said.
Umali, who steered the impeachment of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno at the committee level, was a former stalwart of the Liberal Party of former President Benigno Aquino III.
Alvarez also mentioned re-electionist Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, presidential adviser Francis Tolentino, and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
Alvarez, PDP secretary general, made the pitch in his message after the mass oath-taking of an estimated 5,000 new members of the administration party at the Caloocan City Sports Complex Tuesday.
Alvarez said performance in the surveys of the candidates would be an important guide for the administration in finalizing the senatorial slate.
“That’s important because we want our candidates to win. Also, we’d like to know if they are really serious in pursing their candidacy for the Senate,” he added.
Meanwhile, Alvarez said the growing number of the members of the ruling party also further bolsters support for President Duterte’s advocacy for federalism.
“We have schedules of activities like this [mass oathtaking] almost every weekend. This is encouraging because this shows the continuing support of our people for the President,” he noted.
What is significant is that many barangay officials are joining the ruling party, he said.
“We can pursue the programs of the President better if we have the support of the grassroots,” Alvarez said.
In particular, Alvarez said the exodus of barangay leaders to the ruling party would help push Duterte’s advocacy for federalism.
“They [barangay officials] would play a crucial role. You see, in a plebiscite, the barangay officials are the ones who could effectively educate our people on the benefits of a federal system under the proposed new constitution,” said Alvarez.
Senator JV Ejercito, a member of the majority bloc in the Senate, said he would not seek re-election under the PDP-Laban flag because of all their candidates must support the shift to federalism.
“The feeling is mutual. If they don’ like us, we also don’t like them,” Ejercito said, in reaction to Pimentel’s announcement that only candidates supporting federalism can join the PDP-Laban in the May 2019 mid-term elections.
Ejercito said federalism is a serious matter that should be thoroughly studied since it would change the fundamental law of the land and chart the country’s direction in the next 10 to 50 years.
“They cannot just say we need to support [federalism]. This needs further study. But what I can see [is] they already restricted those who can join PDP- Laban or those who can be a coalition partner,” Ejercito said.