Koko bares ‘personal’ choices for Duterte’s 2019 senatorial slate

Published October 6, 2017 1:39pm Updated October 6, 2017 4:01pm

Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Friday bared his personal choices to be included in the 2019 senatorial slate of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

Pimentel is the president of PDP-Laban, while President Rodrigo Duterte is the party chairman.

In a text message to reporters, Pimentel said that aside from himself, to be included in the senatorial slate are Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, Representatives Alfredo Benitez (Negros Occidental), Geraldine Roman (Bataan), Karlo Nograles (Davao City), and former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chair Francis Tolentino.

Tolentino ran for senator in the 2016 elections, and ranked 13th in the final tally. He has since been appointed as Duterte’s political adviser.

Pimentel clarified that the first six candidates are not yet official.

“This is a developing/evolving matter, hence, not final, not official. [These are] just my personal preferences,” the Senate President said, adding that he has not yet personally discussed his choices with the party.

He added that the PDP-Laban is open to entering into coalition agreements with other parties if the party fails to come up with a complete 12-person senatorial slate.

Pimentel added that he plans on asking House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, secretary general of the party, to be the national campaign manager “under the battlecry ’12-0’.”

Senator JV Ejercito, a re-electionist, is also being convinced by Pimentel to transfer to PDP-Laban. Ejercito, son of former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada, is a member of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).

“Since I am with the majority, that is a possibility. That is, if I will still run,” Ejercito told reporters.

“SP Koko and I have been talking these past few months. In fact he talked to Mayor Erap and asked permission if I can transfer  from PMP, because he needs me to strengthen PDP in the Senate,” Ejercito added. — RSJ, GMA News