The ruling PDP-Laban has two presidents: newly-installed Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi and Sen. Manny Pacquiao.
Cusi has supposedly replaced Pacquiao in an election staged last Saturday, July 17 at Royce Hotel and Casino in Clark, Pampanga.
But Pacquiao and his allies led by Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said they do not recognize the recent election during the party’s national assembly at Clark as it was illegal.
But Cusi and the other newly-elected officers have asserted they are now the ruling party’s new officers and that Pacquiao was replaced by the Energy Sectary.
The PDP faction led by Pacquiao and Pimentel declared as farce the gathering at Clark. If also described the election of new officers as illegal and not sanctioned by the general membership.
President Duterte sworn into office the elected PDP-Laban officers led by Cusi who was earlier expelled by Pacquiao from the party for pushing the Carpio-Duterte tandem in 2022.
Pacquiao emphasized that the act of Cusi amount to violation of a party rules for supporting a candidate outside the party.
Cusi is gunning for the presidency of Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and vice-presidency for President Duterte.
Pacquiao, who is currently in the United States for a boxing bout, is eyeing the presidency in next year’s elections.
Pimentel, the party’s executive vice chairman, stressed that the assembly hosted by Cusi (then the party’s vice chairman) is not recognized by the existing PDP-Laban leadership.
“Since Sec. Cusi wants to be a stickler for rules, then he should follow all the rules of the Party,” also said Pimentel, son of the late Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, co-founder of PDP-Laban.
“You cannot make attendees to a PDP-Laban party assembly instant members of the party on the spot. As far as the present PDP-Laban leadership is concerned, we will continue to function as the party,” vowed Pimentel, who was succeeded by Pacquiao as party president.
The election of the new officers and the remark of Pimentel heightened the rift within PDP.
President Duterte blamed Pimentel for the bickering, saying Pacquiao does not know anything because “he’s not reading.” He said the boxing champ merely followed what he was told.
He also committed to seriously campaign for all their candidates who would run in various posts next year.
A statement issued by Pacquiao ‘s camp related that in a simultaneous “zoom” assembly by more than 100 PDP-Laban chapters nationwide, the members insisted that all party officials are elected by the party’s general membership and not by a few politicians who are not even full-fledged party members.
The party’s original members and chapters expressed support for Pacquiao, denouncing the Cusi-led Clark assembly.
City Council President Marlo Tabac, a PDP-Laban grassroots leader in Mindanao said, “The Clark assembly is a farce. Many of those present are not even real members of PDP-Laban. Their political loyalty has never been with PDP-Laban so there’s really no doubt in my mind that they are out to destroy the party.”
Jovel Lopez, a PDP-Laban community leader in Bulacan and a party cadre since the founding of party by the elder Pimentel in 1982 , said he does not understand why party newcomers and interlopers are now trying to wrest control of the party.
Meanwhile, re-elected party Secretary General Melvin Matibag on Monday said, “If we are going to have a national council meeting, it should be called by President Duterte in coordination with Sec. Alfonso Cusi.”
Pimentel quipped, ” Then why didn’t they coordinate with Pacquiao from the start?
Pacquiao is the president but they did not recognize him. They made a shortcut,” said Pimentel.
Matibag said they are willing to discuss the matter with Pacquiao’s camp once he returns to the country from his fight in the United States.