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Cusi gets power to shape PDP slate

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The poll season is in the air as political parties start building up their machineries with the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP) naming Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi as its national campaign manager.

PDP, which has President Rodrigo Duterte as national chairman, also vowed to announce next week its senatorial slate for the mid-term polls.

Cusi, vice chairman of PDP, was also given the authority to adopt candidates or coalesce with other political parties to strengthen the party’s lineup.

In an interview, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, PDP president, said as of yesterday the PDP had six confirmed senatorial candidates but stressed the party is still in the process of completing the 12-man slate.

Pimentel said the PDP leadership will be strict in vetting candidates to ensure quality and winnability rather than just fielding a full ticket.

“Our agreement with campaign manager Cusi was that we will tighten or we will be very strict in the vetting or selection procedure and if we can’t complete the slate so be it,” Pimentel said.

“The campaign manager will have the flexibility of entering into alliances because remember reelectionists have their own parties,” he added.

Pimentel is expected to banner the PDP slate. Previously mentioned by Pimentel among the PDP bets for the senatorial race were Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Secretary Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, presidential spokesman Harry Roque, Presidential Political Adviser Secretary Francis Tolentino and Bureau of Corrections chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa.

Nograles, Cua back out

Pimentel confirmed that Reps. Karlo Nograles and Dax Cua had backed out from plans to seek Senate seats.

The PDP stalwart assured the people that there will be no personality listed on President Duterte’s drug list who will be accepted by the ruling party.

“No person on the drug list will be accepted into PDP. And if ever we make a mistake in accepting such, then we have membership committee as well as execom to review and decline the membership application or expel the members concerned,” Pimentel said.

Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar said at least seven to eight Cabinet members will quit their posts to become candidates for the elections next year.

Andanar, in a TV interview, said Cabinet officials will seek local and national posts but it was not clear, however, if these officials include presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

Andanar earlier had stated the presidential spokesman will “surely” run for senator in next year’s elections although he is being urged to reconsider this.

“From what I have heard from the interviews of Harry Roque, I think it’s possible that seven or eight members will resign,” Andanar said. “Some of them will run for the local posts in their respective provinces.”

“Some will run as congressmen, so it’s really possible about seven or eight,” he added.

No shortage of talent

With the looming exodus of Cabinet members once the filing of certificates of candidacy (CoC) starts, Malacañang said there will be no disruption in government services as President Rodrigo Duterte “will never run out” of appointees.

“For every Cabinet official that leaves, there are probably a hundred people interested in their posts,” Roque said.

“So, there will not be a shortage of individuals to fill in the slots or positions to be vacated by Cabinet members who are seeking public office,” he added.

Meanwhile, Senate President Vicente Sotto III yesterday swore in former Sen. Lito Lapid and his son former Pampanga Gov. Mark Lapid as new members of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).

Sotto confirmed that the elder Lapid will seek his return to the Senate under NPC while his son would run as mayor of Porac town.

“He (Lito Lapid) is a member of the Senate macho bloc,” Sotto said.

The Senate “macho bloc” is composed of Sotto and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Gregorio Honasan.

Macalintal nixes DILG bid

Election law expert Atty. Romulo Macalintal stressed that the proposal of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to disqualify electoral candidates who are included in drug lists is unconstitutional.

Macalintal, on radio, said the proposal will violate the provision in the Constitution on the presumption of innocence, adding one can only be disqualified if there is already a final judgment.

“The plan of the DILG would violate the provision of the Constitution on the presumption of innocence. It’s clear in the Omnibus Election Code that you can only be disqualified if there is already a final judgement which means that the Supreme Court has ruled to disqualify those people,” Macalintal said.

with Elmer N. Manuel, Kristina Maralit and Kuhlin Ceslie Gacula

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