PALO, Leyte-Former Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho ‘Icot’ Petilla and his younger brother, Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla are the latest to abandon their previous political party to join the administration-backed PDP-Laban.
He and his younger brother took their oath as new PDP-Laban recruits before party and Senate president Koko Pimentel III last Wednesday (August 2), Petilla said.
“Unlike others, we were invited to join the party by the Senate president through (Lutgardo) ‘Lutz’ Barbo,” he said in an interview Saturday (August 5).
Barbo, a former governor of Eastern Samar and the current Senate secretary, is the vice president for Eastern Visayas of the PDP-Laban.
Petilla, prior to his switch of political affiliation, is an ally of former president Benigno Aquino who ran unsuccessfully for a Senate seat in 2016 under the then ruling Liberal Party.
The Petillas are considered to be one of the most politically influential families in Leyte who ruled the provincial seat since 1988.
Petilla, who also served as governor of Leyte until he was named as Energy Secretary in 2012, admitted that their reason for changing political allegiance is to ensure that the province will get attention and assistance from the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, whose mother is from the neighboring province of Southern Leyte.
“Politically we can survive. However, how can the province ask for assistance if we are not politically aligned with the administration? So it is a decision that is actually not only good for us but more so, for the province,” Petilla said.
As part of his job as a new PDP-Laban stalwart in Leyte, they were asked by the political leadership to recruit mayors.
Incidentally, Palo Mayor Remedios ‘Matin’ Petilla, mother of the former Cabinet secretary, has yet to join PDP-Laban.
Petilla also dismissed rumors that his joining the PDP-Laban is part of his preparation for the 2019 elections or a possible Cabinet appointment.
“My name has been floated as Energy Secretary or BSP governor. I don’t know why,” he said.
The former governor is also reported to be eyeing a congressional seat here in Leyte.