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Loyal! Duterte still with PDP-Laban

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by Xave Gregorio

President Rodrigo Duterte remains with ruling party PDP-Laban, despite Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque’s earlier statement that the chief executive’s party is Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP).

PDP-Laban President Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III told Politiko in a text message Friday (August 10) that Duterte affirmed his membership to the party, which he chairs.

“The president said that PDP LABAN is his party and that he is duty bound to campaign for its candidates,” Pimentel said.

Duterte met with party members and officials at a hotel last night to amid issues hounding the party, including his supposed denial of PDP-Laban as his party, as stated by Roque after he took his oath to join HNP, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte’s regional party.

Roque said Duterte’s political party has always been Hugpong. The former Davao City mayor had his own party, Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod, but is also a member of national party PDP-Laban.

Her daughter, Mayor Duterte, has created HNP, which is steadily building alliances with major national political parties, including the Nacionalista Party of former Senator Manny Villar.

The younger Duterte butted heads with PDP-Laban Secretary General Davao del Norte 1st District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez over HNP, which was supposedly dubbed by the latter as part of the opposition.

This cost Alvarez his speakership, with Mayor Duterte pulling strings to oust him and replace him with former President and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, congressmen say.

Previously, Pimentel was also replaced by former Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III as Senate President.

The party is also dealing with a splinter group which elected a new set of national officers, ousting Pimentel and Alvarez from their party posts.

While Duterte also met with the faction, led by his classmate Rogelio Garcia, Pimentel said no settlement was needed.

“No need for any settlement. No one recognizes them except themselves. And maybe some media practitioners,” Pimentel said.

He also said Arroyo was not brought up during the meeting with Duterte.

The President, as PDP-Laban chair, is expected to campaign for the candidates it would field for the 2019 polls.