Duterte stays with PDP-Laban: 'I don't like to change parties'

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(From L-R) Senator Manny Pacquiao, President Rodrigo Duterte, and Senator Koko Pimentel at the 35th anniversary celebration of PDP-Laban (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 18) — President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday he is not jumping ship amid reports of him leaving the ruling PDP-Laban to join his daughter's regional party.

"I do not like to change parties. So I will remain where I am," Duterte said before members of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP), the political party of Davao City Mayor and presidential daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio.

Duterte admitted that PDP-Laban was a "moribund" party that only strengthened when he won the 2016 presidential elections as its standard bearer.

He said he joined the party because of its leftist leanings, but also described it as being "too principled."

Duterte expressed support for the HNP and the nine bets it has endorsed for the 2019 senatorial polls: Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Senator Cynthia Villar, Senator JV Ejercito, Senator Sonny Angara, Rep. Pia Cayetano, Rep. Zajid Mangudadatu, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos and Bureau of Corrections Chief Ronald Dela Rosa.

"I can support you morally, politically. Kung makinig pa ang tao sa akin (if the public would still listen to me)," he said.

Duterte reportedly would take an oath that night as a member of the HNP amid the leadership squabble at PDP-Laban.

Duterte, who serves as chairman of the party, is set to talk again to the two warring factions on September 1 after an August 9 meeting failed to unite its members. A group led by Rogelio Garcia is claiming to have unseated Senator Koko Pimentel as PDP-Laban president, along with other party leaders.

This comes after the controversial ouster of Pantaleon Alvarez as House Speaker last July 23, even causing a delay to Duterte's third State of the Nation Address. Some congressmen said the presidential daughter made calls asking for solons to unseat Alvarez and elect Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Duterte-Carpio has neither confirmed nor denied these claims. But she clarified her party is not recruiting members of PDP-Laban, amid lawmakers' claim that some of them planned to jump ship to Arroyo's former political party Lakas-CMD, which could possibly merge with HNP.