By Ben Rosario
Still smarting from the defection of some members to the National Unity Party (NUP), PDP-Laban said it will not adopt Davao City Rep. Paolo “Pulong” Duterte into the party but is willing to upstage its rival party by taking in the presidential son as an honorary member.
This developed as Lakas-CMD, once a formidable political party under the Arroyo administration, snatched from NUP and PDP-Laban and two possible assets in the Lower House.
Former House Majority Leader and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro and Rizal Rep. Fidel Nograles were taken in as Lakas-CMD members, adding to the nine members who won in the recent congressional elections.
Castro recently resigned as NUP president out of “delicadeza” for not supporting the speakership bid of now Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano. NUP backed Cayetano.
Nograles’ decision to abandon PDP-Laban, President Duterte’s party and the largest political group in country, in favor of Lakas baffled many of their Lower House colleagues.
From nine congressmen, Lakas-CMD now has 11 members in the Lower Chamber.
Not to be left out in the membership merry-go-round, the PDP-Laban said it will name Rep. Duterte an honorary member if he wants to.
In an ambush interview during the dinner party tendered for Senator Manny Pacquiao, PDP-Laban president and Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said the presidential son cannot be accepted in the party as “adopted” member because such membership status is not provided for under the party by-laws.
“Iba kasi ang meaning ng adopted. If it is a national party, you can only belong to one,” explained Pimentel.
Asked by reporters if the Davao City solon can become an honorary member with the PDP-Laban, the senator answered affirmatively.
“Oo, taga Mindanao naman si Pulong, eh (Yes, Pulong is from Mindanao, anyway),” said Pimentel.
Earlier, Rep. Duterte said he is willing to join any political group if this will help “unify” the Lower House.
Recently elected as Deputy Speaker for Political Affairs, the young Duterte explained that with his current position in the Lower House, he must try to unify all members of Congress toward achieving a common goal – to “improve the lives of the Filipino people.”
Before issuing this statement, Rep. Duterte was reported to have joined the NUP as “adopted member.” He brought with him to the NUP a number of party-list allies and PDP-Laban congressmen.
“If being adopted by most, if not all, political parties is to be of service to the people, then I am more than willing to join all of you,” said the neophyte solon.
Asked to comment on the resignation of 12 congressmen from PDP-Laban, Pimentel said he is against party-switching, pointing out that he remains loyal to his party ever since he entered politics in the 1980’s.
But switching parties is a common occurrence in the Philippines and is allowed under the Constitution.
To address the issue, Pimentel called for the passage of measures that would further strengthen the country’s political party system.