GMA News Online

Pimentel denies dropping PDP-Laban presidency

August 29, 2012 6:36pm

Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III on Wednesday denied that he had taken a leave as president of the Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban (PDP-Laban) to be able to run under the administration's Liberal Party (LP) in next year's senatorial polls.

"I never filed any verbal or written leave of absence," Pimentel told GMA News Online in an interview on Wednesday.

He issued the statement after United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) spokesman JV Bautista was quoted in media reports as saying that Pimentel had indeed taken a leave from PDP-Laban.

But Pimentel said that he has to talk to Bautista to find out where he got that information.

GMA News Online is still trying to get Bautista's comment as of posting time.

Pimentel, for his part, explained that under their party constitution, no person or group can force an officer or a member to go on leave.

"That's the party of my father and the constitution I wrote so bakit ko iiwanan ang party na yan? I've invested my blood and my sweat and my tears [there]," he said.

Pimentel was supposed to run under the UNA banner in the 2012 polls but withdrew after learning that former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, against whom he had previously filed an electoral protest, was also running under UNA.

UNA, a coalition between PDP-Laban and the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), has been releasing the names of its senatorial bets in batches.

It has, so far, listed Zubiri, San Juan City Rep. Joseph Victor "JV" Ejercito, Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile, Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay, Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia, NBN-ZTE whistleblower Joey de Venecia, and incumbent senator Gregorio Honasan as its senatorial bets for 2013.

But just last month, former President Joseph Estrada confirmed with GMA News Online that Sen. Loren Legarda will also be running under UNA.

In a text message on Wednesday, Bautista also finally confirmed rumors that UNA has formally picked former senators Ernesto Maceda and Richard Gordon to be part of the UNA 2013 slate.

"[They] are two of our most experienced leaders and statesmen. Their talent and experience will contribute immensely to the policy-making and legislation. They are also both winnable," he said.

Bautista added that they will make the announcement for Legarda's inclusion in the Senate slate on a separate occasion. — BM, GMA News
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