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Alvarez endorses 9 PDP-Laban Senate bets for 2019, denies it’s early campaigning

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by: Xave Gregorio

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has endorsed at least nine politikos for ruling party PDP-Laban’s senatorial slate for the 2019 elections at mass oath takings of the political party, but denies that it is early campaigning.

“Wala pa ngang filing ng certificate of candidacy, wala pang kampanya di ba? Ipinapakilala ko lang ‘yung posibleng maging kandidato ng PDP,” Alvarez said Thursday (March 1) in a chance interview with reporters at the sidelines of a mass oath taking of around 6,000 local Surigao politikos.

In a speech before newly-minted PDP-Laban members, Alvarez endorsed Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles and Maguindanao 2nd District Rep. Sajid Mangudadatu, saying there should be more Mindanaoans in the national government.

“These are our guys—these two are from Mindanao,” Alvarez reportedly said, according to a press release from the House Press and Public Affairs Bureau.

Of the incumbent 23 senators, only three—Senate President Koko Pimentel and Senators Migz Zubiri and Manny Pacquiao—hail from Mindanao.

The Speaker also continued to wo Special Assistant to the President Sec. Bong Go to run for a Senate seat, despite the latter’s vehement refusal, even if he has the blessing of President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

However, Alvarez joked that Go may run if he makes the long time aide of Duterte a godfather in his wedding with his girlfriend, whom he recently introduced as his wife, despite not being legally married.

Alvarez repeated his endorsement for Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque and Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson to be included in the PDP-Laban senatorial slate, which he said would be led by Pimentel, who would gun for re-election next year.

Other politikos the Speaker is eyeing to be included in the ruling party’s Senate slate are House committee on justice chair and Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Rep. Reynaldo Umali, House committee on housing and urban development chair and Negros Occidental 3rd District Rep. Albee Benitez, and Bataan 1st District Rep. Geraldine Roman.

Umali’s name frequently appears on headlines as he is leading hearings on the impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, while Roman made history as the first transgender politiko in Congress. Both were members of the previously ruling Liberal Party until they jumped ship to PDP-Laban after Duterte’s election.