Sara Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago seizes the initiative from problematic PDP Laban


Upon the election of then Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte as President of the Republic of the Philippines, under the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban), in 2016, the PDP Laban national political party had no way to go but up. As TRAPOs (TRAditional POliticianS) jumped on the PDP Laban band wagon, PDP Laban easily achieved a SUPER MAJORITY head count in the House of Representatives and controlled the Duterte Administration Coalition in the Senate. PDP stalwarts Koko Pimentel became Senate President and Pantaleon Alvarez became House Speaker. By absorbing incumbent congressmen/women, governors and mayors into the PDP fold, PDP was poised to SWEEP the 2019 midterm senatorial and local elections to totally demolish the Aquino Administration dominant political group, the Liberal Party. sara hnp cropped

On the way to a projected 2019 PDP Laban sweep of the senatorial elections, then Speaker Alvarez floated what he thought to be the absolutely brilliant idea of packing the PDP senatorial slate with long-time (but not nationally prominent) PDP leaders from the House of Representatives. The thinking was that since local elections would be won by PDP, then it was but natural for the PDP senatorial candidates to be carried to electoral victory. Left on the sidelines to mull their future are Duterte Administration Coalition incumbent senators who are up for re-election but are not PDP members (Cynthia Villar, Nancy Binay, Grace Poe, Sonny Angara and JV Ejercito). Note: Koko Pimentel (of PDP Laban) and Bam Aquino (of the opposition Liberal Party) are also for re-election.

A separate issue that involves PDP Laban is the running feud between former Speaker Alvarez and the Presidential daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte. The feisty Mayor from Davao City organized a Davao regional political party named Hugpong ng Pagbabago and got the support of at least 4 out of 5 Davao region governors. The obvious motivation is to challenge Alvarez (who is a congressman from the Davao region) and the PDP in the 2019 local elections.

Pimentel was then removed as Senate President. Alvarez was kicked out as House Speaker in a coup that happened in dramatic fashion on the day that the President delivered his State of the Nation Address (SONA). Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took over the House leadership. Mayor Sara called on a number of congressmen/women to effect the Alvarez ouster. The back room maneuverings and removal of her arch rival as House Speaker propelled Mayor Inday Sara to national prominence and sooner or later, NATIONAL political parties made a bee line to secure a formal alliance with Hugpong ng Pagbabago. While the PDP belatedly included the non-PDP re-electionist senators in their list of 24 possible candidates (for twelve slots), they still have to undergo a trimming process thus their future in the PDP ticket still hangs at a balance. On the other hand Sara Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago already includes Senators Villar, Ejercito and Angara in their line-up. Together with come backing Senator Pia Cayetano, SAP Bong Go and former PNP chief Bato Dela Rosa, Hugpong ng Pagbabago is ready and able to challenge PDP for the most number of senators elected in 2019. Please take note that there would be common candidates between the two parties with Bong Go and Pia Cayetano, among others, being fielded by the rival pro-Duterte political  parties. Still, in the final analysis, even after counting the common candidates for both sides, when the dust settles after the 2019 midterm elections, either PDP Laban or Hugpong ng Pagbabago will have more senatorial seats won (unless there is a tie). Should PDP Laban elect more senators, everyone would just say that the development had been expected due to the long history of PDP Laban  and the huge numbers of politicians that crossed over to them after the 2016 Presidential elections. However, a Hugpong ng Pagbabago victory would deal a crushing blow to PDP Laban and elevate Sara Duterte to national stature.


#Duerte #SaraDuterte #HugpongNgPagbabago #TapangAtMalasakit


US indicts PORK BARREL QUEEN Janet Lim Napoles, seeks EXTRADITION

A businesswoman at the center of a massive Manila corruption scandal has been charged in the US with laundering about USD$20 million allegedly pilfered from the Philippine state, prosecutors said, adding they would seek her extradition.

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A federal grand jury in California indicted Tuesday Philippine national Janet Lim Napoles, a key suspect in the so-called “pork barrel” scandal where politicians allegedly embezzled roughly USD$200 million (PHP 10 BILLION)that was supposed to help poor Filipinos.

Napoles, along with five family members, is accused of wiring $20 million of the stolen money from the Philippines to California bank accounts, the US attorney’s office said in a statement.

Lim, 54, is already behind bars in the Philippines, where she is on trial over graft charges stemming from the alleged embezzlement.

The Manila law firm representing her declined to comment.

The US indictment alleges the defendants used the money to buy real estate, shares in businesses, two Porsche Boxsters and finance the living expenses of three US-based Napoles family members.

“We will work with our Philippine counterparts to secure the extradition of the defendants to the United States,” said US Attorney Nick Hanna.

The US government won a court order in 2015 to freeze $12.5 million worth of assets bought by Napoles and others using the allegedly stolen funds.

“If the court orders the assets forfeited, the United States will work… to return the stolen funds back to the Philippine government,” the statement said.

The money was intended for use in development projects chosen by lawmakers, but instead it was diverted to phoney non-profit organisations and stolen.

The scandal rocked the Philippines, where one in five people live on the equivalent of just over a dollar a day.

Three Filipino senators (Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla) were among those arrested in Manila in 2014 over the scam.

After her arrest in Manila, the US government said, Napoles and her family attempted to quietly liquidate the American assets and move the cash back to the Philippines or accounts in the US and Britain.

The defendants also allegedly attempted to give some of the money to Napoles’s US-based daughter, one of those indicted, who used the cash to open a fashion business.

Last year Napoles won a legal victory when a Philippine appellate court acquitted her of charges of abducting and detaining a former aide (whistleblower Benhur Luy) who turned state witness against her in the plunder and graft charges.

However, President Rodrigo Duterte’s government recently dropped an earlier proposal to turn her into a state witness, which could have lessened her exposure to a long prison sentence if convicted.

Story by Agence France Presse

File photo: Janet Lim Napoles with Senator Frank Drilon