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Power move! Re-electionist senators get Sotto, Ping backing; Pimentel snub

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By Xave Gregorio

Senators gunning for re-election in 2019 have received the backing of veteran lawmakers Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto and Senator Ping Lacson, as PDP-Laban continues to insist that they have to be members before joining its senatorial lineup.

Senator JV Ejercito, among the five re-electionist senators who have formed an informal alliance he dubbed as “The Force,” said Sotto has commited to become their campaign manager in the polls next year, while Lacson has thrown his support for them.

“That’s very encouraging coming from senior senators,” Ejercito said Thursday (March 22) in a media briefing.

However, PDP President and Senate President Koko Pimentel has not given his support for his colleagues or even a promise that they will be included in the senatorial lineup of the ruling party, to the disappointment of The Force, composed of Senators Ejercito, Cynthia Villar, Nancy Binay, Grace Poe and Sonny Angara.

“Sana lang he should fight for his main constituents, and that is senators. And we have been very supportive of the administration, so kung doon lang sa parteng ‘yun naipakita naman namin na very supportive ang majority senators,” Ejercito said.

He also lamented how Pimentel and PDP have failed to protect senators who were consistently supportive of Duterte’s policies, with their bitter rivals getting named as party leaders in their bailiwicks

“We expect the same amount na sana ‘yung support namin na ganun sana naman maprotektahan din kami nang ganun, ‘wag panay PDP,” Ejercito said.

The senator also questioned Alvarez’ recent statement that only firm supporters of the shift to federalism can be included in the senatorial slate of the ruling party.

“Open naman [kami.] Sana wag isasara na kapag hindi ka pabor sa federalism, na hindi ka na pwede, hayaan namang pagaralan muna,” Ejercito said.

This comes after PDP secretary general and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez revealed eight names in the party’s Senate slate, leaving only room for four more politikos.

Pimentel, however, in a text message said, “Nothing is final and slate announced by [the] Speaker is not even completely filled up.”

He also said those who are merely open to federalism are welcome to join the senatorial lineup of PDP.

Ejercito said if Alvarez can come up with a proposed senatorial lineup, the Senate President should also come up with his own slate.

“When it comes to performance we have shown that we have performed. Ilaban naman sana ‘yug six re-electionist senators to be part of the slate,” Ejercito said.

But regardless if PDP stands firm on excluding non-member politikos from its Senate lineup, Ejercito said The Force is keen on running together as an independent bloc, or possibly under Hugpong ng Pagbabago, the newly formed party of presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

“‘Yung anim na re-electionist walang formal talks but we had a very good relationship with each other so chances are mukhang ‘di na maghihiwalay ang anim na ito,” Ejercito said.

He also hopes that the President would broker a rainbow coalition where the re-electionist senators are included, saying Duterte knows of their fierce support of his policies.