By Joseph Jubelag
GENERAL SANTOS CITY- A classmate of President Rodrigo Duterte in law school at the San Beda College from this city has assumed the leadership of the ruling Partido Demokratikong Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP LABAN) after the party’s general assembly ousted on Friday Senator Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel as the party’s national president over of loss of confidence on the leadership of the former Senate president to lead the organization.
The PDP LABAN national council called the national assembly attended by some 4,000 PDP LABAN regional, provincial, municipal and barangay officials who elected lawyer Rogelio Garcia, the party’s regional president for Region 12, as the new national president.
Garcia is one of the old guards of the PDP Laban who was elected assemblyman of the defunct Batasang Pambansa in 1984 under the ticket of then opposition political party PDP LABAN.
He also served as Deputy Minister for labor and employment during the term of President Corazon Aquino.
Garcia is also an appointee of Duterte to the board of the Development Bank of the Philippines
Pimentel’s secretary-general former Speaker Heherson Alvarez was also replaced by businessman Willy Talag, PDP LABAN Council president of Makati City.
Garcia said party leaders decided to call for a national assembly and election of national council officers after majority of the party’s officials and members lost their trust and confidence on Pimentel and Alvarez who both failed to steer the ruling party to support President Duterte’s thrusts and programs particularly in advocating federalism.
He said the party should pro-actively push for the implementation of the federal system of government which is one of the basic principles of PDP LABAN.
Instead of strengthening the party in support of the federalism advocacy of President Duterte, the party’s national chairman, Garcia stressed that Pimentel and Alvarez have kept themselves busy on pushing their own political interest.
He said Pimentel and Alvarez had accommodated political turncoats to join the party who are not really in support of the President’s advocacy for Federalism.
“Worse. Some of those who defected to the party were included in the narco-list of the President,” Garcia said.
Pimentel said the election of the new PDP LABAN national officers was illegal, saying he is set to take legal action to question the validity of the proceedings of the national assembly.
Prior to the holding of the national assembly, Garcia said his group had sought the advice of former Senator Aquilino ‘Nene’ Pimentel, the founding chair of PDP LABAN, who reportedly gave his nod to proceed with the election of new party officers.
Duterte, the PDP LABAN national chairman is set to hold a dialogue between Pimentel and Garcia next week to iron out kinks on the party leadership.