President Rodrigo Duterte considers Hugpong ng Pagbabago as his primary political party, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said Monday.
“First and foremost when I asked him he said Hugpong has always been his party,” said Roque who took his oath under HNP, which was formed by Duterte’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
“I am the presidential spokesperson and the President has said Hugpong is his party. It’s only right I join his party. He is also the chairman of PDP-Laban, so I should also be there,” he added.
Roque made the statement a day after Duterte-Carpio said the HNP is preparing for a head-on collision with the PDP-Laban in next year’s elections.
“We are preparing for the PDP-Laban to field a full slate,” she said as she led the mass oathtaking of 6,000 new members of her party.
“We would sign up alliances with other local government units and come up with a senatorial slate. We are recruiting more members for the 2019 elections,” Duterte-Carpio added.
Her decision to create the HNP, inspired by her father’s own party, the Hugpong Sa Tawong Lungsod, led to a falling out with a key ally of the President, then Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
In February, Duterte-Carpio slammed Alvarez for accusing her of being part of the opposition and undermining the PDP-Laban.
Alvarez was eventually ousted during the State of the Nation Address of Duterte on July 23 and was replaced by Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Lawmakers acknowledged that the mayor’s tiff with Alvarez was among the reasons the change in leadership in the House of Representatives happened.
While HNP has been gaining new members, PDP-Laban suffered its first major crack under Duterte as party chairman.
A breakaway faction held an unauthorized assembly to elect Rogelio Garcia as president, Abbin Dalhani as executive vice president, Willy Talag as secretary-general and Special Assistant to the President Christopher Go as auditor.
The breakaway group maintained Duterte as chairman.
The group removed Senator Aquilino Pimentel III as party president and Alvarez as secretary-general, but established party leaders dismissed the move as an unauthorized action by rogue or expelled members.
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