BY ROGER M. BALANZA
Even as it was rattled by a leadership crisis in 2010, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) is still a force to reckon with and will regroup to rally behind the presidential bid of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in the 2016 election.
PDP-laban has already said it would support Duterte, a former party stalwart, if he throws his hat in the presidential race and would pick him as its standard bearer.
However, in a recent report, PDP-Laban founder former Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said financial constraint forces the party into not fielding a presidential candidate for the 2016 elections.
But the party could still marshal its powerhouse into a victorious Duterte run by coalescing with a party that would have Duterte as its standard bearer.
Pimentel said his party will regroup to support a presidential candidate.
We will coalesce with the party that would carry Duterte, said a PDP-Laban stalwart in Davao City, who begged he remain anonymous.
But definitely that party would not be the opposition party, said the PDP-Laban party man, referring to the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) headed by former President now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada. PDP-Laban is headed by Senator Koko Pimentel, son of the former Senator.
Estrada has said UNA is fielding Vice President Jejomar Binay as standard bearer in 2016.
Binay is ‘persona non grata’ to the PDP-Laban for supporting an ‘arch enemy’ of the Pimentels in the senatorial race in 2013.
Duterte, who has barged into the TOP 3 in surveys for presidential preference by Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia, is looming as a potential candidate of the administration Liberal Party (LP) of President Benigno Aquino.
Duterte, now an LP party man but has not shed political ties with the PDP-Laban, landed at No. 3 in the surveys behind LP-aligned Senator Grace Poe and front-runner Binay.
Poe has said she was not ready for the presidency and could leave the LP with two choices for standard bearer: Duterte and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas who has been faring badly in the surveys.
It would be a sort of a “sweet revenge” for PDP-Laban if Duterte, running for president under the LP in a coalition with PDP-Laban, beats Binay in the 2016 election.
The vice president has a debt to pay to the Pimentels.
Binay won the vice presidency in 2010 under UNA, a coalition between the Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) of Estrada and the Pimentel party PDP-Laban then chaired by Binay.
In that election, Bukidnon’s Migz Zubiri (LP) landed at the at the last winning slot; followed by then first-time senatorial bet Koko Pimentel, the elder Pimentel’s son, who filed an electoral protest against Zubiri, who was dislodged midway through his term.
It was a nerve-wracking two-year battle for the Pimentels before Koko was installed as Senator.
In the 2013 mid-term election, Binay sparked a leadership crisis in PDP-Laban when he picked Zubiri to join the UNA senatorial line-up.
The Binay ‘treachery’ stirred a crisis in PDP-Laban leading to his ouster from the party. He would be replaced as party head by Senator Koko Pimentel who coalesced the PDP-Laban with the LP. Zubiri lost in the election.
“The party doesn’t have the funds necessary to establish viable chapters all over the nation,” Duterte said in a report. “What the party has regional groupings but I’m not too sure if it is existent in very province or city.”
The PDP-Laban stalwart in Davao City said its chapters nationwide may be hibernating but will come out alive if the party decides to support Duterte.
The party man is well entrenched in the PDP-Laban leadership: His group filled the void when Binay was ousted from the party along with then party secretary general Wendel Avisado of Davao City. Avisado, former city administrator of Duterte, resigned as Davao City councilor few months after Binay won the vice presidency in 2010. Currently Avisado is the deputy chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) which is chaired by Binay and corporate secretary of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) whose president is Binay. Avisado has been visible of late, representing Binay in investigations by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee over alleged anomalies in the Pag-ibig, a housing agency under HUDCC, and BSP.