FAIR COMMENT | Alito L. Malinao
There is an old Latin adage that says “Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis,” Times changed and we with the times.
Perhaps this is what Senator Aquilino Pimentel, III, or Koko, has forgotten or refused to remember that resulted in what is now a big crisis in the party, Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), the ruling party chaired by President Duterte.
It was his late father, Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. who founded PDP that later formed an alliance with Lakas ng Bayan or Laban founded by Ninoy Aquino to become the core political opposition against Ferdinand Marcos. It was Nene, nickname of Pimental senior, a firebrand and great speaker, who first challenged the Marcos dictatorship and became the rallying point of the opposition after the assassination of Ninoy Aquino.
When then mayor of Davao City Rodrigo Duterte ran and won under the PDP-Laban banner, the party of Ninoy and Nene became the ruling party and with this political reality, majority of the members of Congress joined the bandwagon leading to the election of Koko as Senate president and Duterte’s losing vice presidential candidate Alan Peter Cayetano as House speaker.
Two years later, on May 21, 2018, Pimentel was ousted as Senate head by Senator Vicente Sotto III. This was the start of Pimentel’s downslide in national politics until in December 2020, he designated Senator Manny Pacquiao, a fellow Mindanaoan, as PDP-Laban president, without so much as a by-your-leave from PDP-Laban’s titular chairman, President Duterte.
Probably to recoup some of his spent force, Pimentel pushed Pacquiao as the party’s candidate for president in next year’s polls. This was followed by sudden turnaround of Pacquiao, from being a strong disciple of the president to becoming a vociferous critic.
In the party’s general assembly held at Clark, the President did not mince word in hitting Pimentel, saying that Koko is behind Manny’s attacks on him. “Pacquiao does not know anything. ‘Di naman nagbabasa ‘yan. Basta kung ano lang sabihin ng mga ano nya, sunod (He does not read. he just follows what the people around him say),” he added.
Duterte said that the PDP-Laban was asleep for a hundred years and woke only when he won under its banner in 2016. Of course, what the President said was a hyperbole.
The fact is that now PDP-Laban had two presidents: Pacquiao who was appointed by Pimentel and Cusi who was elected last July 17, at a general assembly attended by the President and some 200 voting members with 82 have virtually participated. These included several party members from the Senate and the House.
The Pimentel-Pacquiao wing is not yielding an inch and has vowed to question the legality of the Clark general assembly up to the courts or in the Commission on Elections. It has also threatened to hold its own general assembly or convention to pick its candidates in the upcoming election.
Manny is only 42 and has no solid background in public service. If he decides to jettison Koko’s hold on him and instead run in 2028 when he will be 48, then Mayor Inday Sara would have a good chance of succeeding her father. And this is what should worry the opposition.