‘Palace no place for Senate goat’

Matibag said it’s Pimentel who’s ‘desperate’ and guilty of ‘personality politics’ when he advised Pacquiao to run for president despite being the top absentee in the Senate

October 29, 2021

The accusation applies more to the accuser.

PDP Laban Secretary-General Melvin Matibag on Thursday hit back at Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, saying the latter must be the one “showing desperation” for pushing the presidential bid of Manny Pacquiao, the Senate’s top absentee lawmaker.

“Senator Koko Pimentel must be referring to himself when he made that statement,” Matibag said after Pimentel criticized PDP Laban’s “desperation” for urging President Rodrigo Duterte to run for senator in next year’s elections.

Pimentel slammed Duterte’s possible Senate run as reflective of a party that is “simply riding and [is] totally dependent” on the “popularity and strength of the personality” of the President.

He described PDP Laban’s move as “personality politics.”

Pacquiao and Pimentel had been ousted from PDP Laban, forcing the retired boxer to run for president under a mere provincial party in PROMDI.

Matibag said it’s Pimentel who’s guilty of pushing “personality politics” when he advised Pacquiao to run for the top government post despite having the worst attendance record in Congress.

The President, on the other hand, is highly favored by the Filipino people, as seen from his 60 percent approval rating in an 11 to 18 October survey, he added.

“Personality politics is advising Senator Manny Pacquiao to run for president just because he is popular even though the latter is a non-performer in the Senate and leads all senators in most absences,” Matibag pointed out.

The lawyer said the idea of the President running for senator was an offshoot of some senators’ abuse of the chamber’s oversight powers as seen from their grandstanding for political mileage during hearings.

A party insider bluntly called Pacquiao a “Senate goat casting moist eyes on the Palace.”

PDP Laban is fielding Senators Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa and Christopher “Bong” Go for president and vice president, respectively.

Party president and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi on Wednesday confirmed “efforts to convince” Mr. Duterte to seek a Senate seat to promote “party politics” that is “based on programs and issues.”

With Duterte in the Senate, Cusi said there will be a continuity of the former Davao City mayor’s initiatives, particularly the “Build, Build, Build” program, to help the economy recover amid the pandemic.

De la Rosa and Go have vowed to continue Duterte’s key programs on fighting corruption, criminality, illegal drugs and the communist insurgency.

The two are towing nine senatorial bets, namely, former secretaries Gregorio Honasan, John Castriciones, Salvador Panelo and Mark Villar; Greco Belgica, Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, Rey Langit and Robin Padilla.

Also on Thursday, Go said that any change in PDP Laban’s election plans would depend on decisions to be made by the President, its chairman.

“That’s the original plan of the party — Go-Duterte. But I have already spoken that if President Duterte will not run as vice president, I will also not run for president,” Go said in Filipino.

“It’s from him (Duterte) that my strength comes — my wellspring of power. Meaning, if he strongly feels (about running for VP), I’d also feel strongly (about seeking the presidency),” Go said.

The senator issued the statement in reaction to a statement by Cusi that the President has the option to run for VP, in which case Go may substitute for De la Rosa as party standard-bearer.

Go also welcomed the idea of President Duterte running for senator, saying that he would be a “big help” in the government if elected.