Koko backs Albee for senator, too

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said yesterday Rep. Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3 rd District) is among his personal choices to be included in the 2019 senatorial slate of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan.

The statement of Pimentel, PDP Laban president, came on the heels of the announcement of party secretary general, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, in Negros Occidental Thursday, that Benitez was among the PDP-Laban senate bets for 2019.

Benitez, the third richest man in the House of Representatives, yesterday told the DAILY STAR he is “grateful for being considered.”

Benitez said he is now going around the country to see if the people will accept his plan to run for senator, which will be the basis for his decision. There has to be acceptance, he said.

Pimentel yesterday told Manila reporters that,aside from himself, among his personal choices to be included in the PDP-Laban senatorial slate for 2019 are Benitez, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, Rep. Geraldine Roman (Bataan), Rep. KarloNograles (Davao City), and former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chair Francis Tolentino.

But he said “This is a developing/evolving matter, hence, not final, not official…just my personal preferences.”

Pimentel said if Alvarez has no opponent for his congressional seat in 2019, he plans on asking him to be the national campaign manager for the PDP-Laban senatorial slate with the battlecry“12-0”.

Also invited to join the PDP Laban slate is Senator JV Ejercito, he added.

“We will try our best to come up with a complete 12-person slate. If we cannot come up with 12, then we are open to entering into coalition agreements with other parties,” he said in a text message.

The 1987 Constitution allows senators to serve only two consecutive terms, but Pimentel said he could still seek re-election because his case is different.

He only served one year and 10 months of his first term after finally being proclaimed senator onAugust 2011 after winning a protracted election protest against Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri. He won another term in the Senate in 2013.*CPG