IN MASBATE: Record-breaking 35,000 members join PDP-Laban
By Connie Destura and Mar S. Arguelles MASBATE CITY --- Tens of thousands of political leaders and supporters from various political camps in Masbate province on Sunday took their oath as members of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan or PDP-Laban. Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, concurrent PDP-Laban president, administered the oath to the 35,000 new party members in Masbate led by Masbate Governor Antonio Kho at the Masbate Sports Arena. The huge number of political leaders starting from the Governor, members of the House of Representatives, 21 city and town mayors, vice mayors and leaders from the 550 barangays converged as early as 6 a.m. Sunday at the province’s sports arena to join in the mass oath-taking ceremony organized by the province. Pimentel, impressed by the enormous attendance, said the show of unity and the willingness to join the party despite their previous political alliances is a manifestation that the people believe in PDP-Laban’s ideology and its political programs. “The 35,000 strong new party members in Masbate is a record breaking event for the party – this has outnumbered the oath-taking ceremonies held in other provinces,” Pimentel said. Thousands of Masbate political leaders take their oath as members of the Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan or PDP-Laban. Pimentel said he would report this record breaking event to House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez who will hold on August 28 a mass oath-taking ceremony in his home region of Davao. “This would be a challenge for the Speaker,” he said. Masbate political unification Pimentel said the united effort of political leaders with diverse agenda indeed makes the party a “Super Majority” not only in Congress but also in the whole country. “The unification in Masbate will make the province a shooting star for the next story of LGU development in the Philippine history,” the Senate president said. Mario Espinosa, PDP-Laban Deputy Secretary General for Bicol, was on the verge of tears when he narrated how his family members became victims of intense political rivalries that even claimed the lives of his father Moises, brother Moises Jr., and uncle Tito. Espinosa, a former Masbate vice governor, made amends with the family’s political arch-rival, Gov. Kho, after the latter, including his leaders and supporters, decided to join the PDP-Laban party. “I asked Gov. Kho that I will support his political career provided you give me a free hand in doing business in the province,” Espinosa said. Pimentel said that when Kho approached him to signify his intention to join the PDP-Laban, he told Kho to consult with Espinosa, who immediately gave a thumb up sign. Pimentel, reacting to the unification message of Espinosa, said that the scenario was the same formula that Duterte used in Davao when he was the mayor. He once told businessmen, “ibigay ninyo sa akin ang pagpatakbo ng Davao at kayo na ang bahala sa pagnenegosyo.” Masbate, one of the two island provinces in Bicol, is known as an area of concern during elections due to intense political rivalries among political clans such as the Espinosas, Khos, Seachon-Lanetes, and the Bravos. Masbate is also popularly known as the Rodeo Capital of the country and visited by thousands of foreign, national and local tourists during the month of May. Federalism Pimentel said PDP-Laban would support the call of President Duterte to change the Constitution and transform the system of government from a unitary form to a federal type. Under the party’s Federal system model, there would be two centers of government -- the national federal state and the 11 regional states. He said the party would adopt the “French Federal System” where there would be a President who is the head of state and a Prime Minister who will run every department of the government. Cabinet secretaries would also come from Congress while the Senate would be tasked to work on foreign policies and approve international agreements.