As I See It – The Parallelism of PDP-Laban and the GOP is evident, becoming worse

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I noticed lately that there is a similar direction being towed by the ruling party of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s PDP-Laban and that of the former US President Donald Trump’s Grand Old Party (GOP). 

Both parties now are in disarray, split and having in-fighting among members. While they are parallel in direction, however, their motives are the same: Political in nature! They both want to perpetuate their presidential powers. Duterte wants to continue his political domination by running as vice president with her daughter Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte-Carpio or old-time confidant Sen. Bong Go as the party’s standard bearer in 2022, while Trump wants to come back and be president again in 2024 under GOP as their standard bearer. 

The GOP which used to be anchored on established principles and party platform is now split with Trump as the main figure in one hand and the other hand with theold guards of the party assembled by former US Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, et al. represented by Utah Sen. Mitt Romney’s group. 

Half of GOP is being towed by Trump and his followers and the other half by Romney, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, and Wyoming Cong. Liz Cheney. They showed their split in impeaching Trump last year, siding with the Democrats in the latest infrastructure bill in the Senate level this year while in the Congressional level, Liz Cheney and Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger accepting their appointment and actively participating in the select committee created by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to investigate the January 6 insurrection. 

The PDP-Laban, on the other hand, is likewise split with two party presidents – Sen. Manny Pacquiao and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi. Pacquiao is being backed up by original and grassroots members led by Sen. Koko Pimentel whileEnergy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, by no less than President Duterte who is the chairman of the party. 

On Saturday, at the national assembly at Clark Field in Pampanga, Cusi was elected PDP-Laban’s new president during the party’s national assembly, replacing Sen. Manny Pacquiao. President Rodrigo Duterte, the party’s chairman, was present during the assembly and administered the oath-taking of the newofficers. (ABS-CBN News) 

Duterte also reiterated his support for Cusi, and dismissed the attempts of Pacquiao and party ally Sen. Koko Pimentel to take control of the party that Duterte leads but was founded by Pimentel’s father, the late Aquilino ‘Nene’ Pimentel Jr. Duterte won the presidency as the standard bearer of PDP-Laban in 2016. He boasted that it was his candidacy for president in 2016 that revived the PDP-Laban.

Duterte said: “Pacquiao does not know anything. Hindi naman nagbabasa ‘yan e. Basta kung ano lang sabihin ng mga ano niya, sunod,” Duterte said. (Pacquiao does not know anything. He does not even read. Whatever his people tell him, he just follows.) 

In a statement, PDP-Laban members who support Pacquiao called the Clark assembly a “farce” and “illegal.”

Sen. Pimentel said the party now faces a test, and urged his allies to stand by Pacquiao’s side.

“Tayo po ay may hinaharap na pagsubok ngayon sa ating partido kaya ang importante ay manatili po tayong malakas at magtiwala sa liderato ng ating partido sa ilalim ng ating presidente na si Senator Manny Pacquiao,” he said.  (We are facing challenges today in our party, that’s why it is important for us to be strong and to trust the party’s leadership under Sen. Pacquiao.)

“Huwag po tayong mag-alala kasi ang talagang ipinaglalaban namin dito ay yung boses po ng ating mga chapter members sa buong bansa.” (Let us not worry because we will fight for you, most especially for our chapter members nationwide.)

PDP-Laban Secretary-General Melvin Matibag earlier declared all national officer positions and committee chairs vacant, (except Duterte’s position as chairman), including Pacquiao’s post as acting president, while Pacquiao remains in the United States training for a world title fight in August. 

Eighty-two delegates attended the national assembly via video-conferencing, besides those physically present at the venue, to reach a quorum, where most of the members in attendance, according to Pimentel becoming instant members violating party membership policies. 

Pimentel, a long-time member of the party, said the “existing PDP-Laban leadership” does not recognize the national assembly.  He added that their faction will “continue to function as the party.”

“Since Sec. Cusi wants to be a stickler for rules, then he should follow all the rules of the Party. You cannot make attendees to a PDP-Laban party assembly instant member of the party on the spot!” the lawmaker said. 

The energy secretary called on his party mates to support Duterte’s possible run in next year’s elections.  “We in PDP-Laban appreciate what the president is doing, his achievement, his feat is unprecedented. I rally this great party in support of our own chairman. Let us help him in this upcoming election season,” said the newly-elected party president. 

Adding confusion and dissention, President Rodrigo Duterte widened the split in the Partido Demoktratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) on Saturday by swearing in a new set of officers and castigating Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III for improperly installing Sen. Manny Pacquiao as acting president and causing an internal rift. (By Leila B. Salaverria, Melvin Gascon @inquirerdotnet, Philippine Daily Inquirer).

Duterte told the assembly that Pacquiao’s designation as acting party president, replacing Pimentel, was not allowed by the party’s bylaws and Constitution. “Koko was the one who made the mistake, not Pacquiao. Pacquiao does not know anything. He just does what he is told, he doesn’t read,” he said.

“You cannot have an acting president. You have to elect people,” Duterte said.

Duterte said the PDP-Laban was dormant before he decided to run for President as its standard bearer. “May I just remind Koko that this party PDP was asleep for a hundred years. It only woke up during the election and I ran for the presidency under the ticket,” he said.

“It was a father and son party, period. And they are not even recognized in Cagayan de Oro City,” he said, adding that the younger Pimentel would not even win as barangay captain.

In a rebuttal aired over a radio interview, Pimentel said Cusi had been violating the party constitution by sowing discord within the PDP-Laban to eventually nominate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte as party standard-bearer in the 2022 presidential election. 

Supporting a “party outsider” and belittling the capability and chances of the party’s homegrown talent is disloyalty to PDP-Laban, which was a sufficient ground for the expulsion of Cusi and two other party officers, Pimentel said.

Jovel Lopez, a PDP-Laban community leader in Bulacan and a party stalwart sinceits founding in 1982, said: “Party newcomers and interlopers are now trying to wrest control of the party.” With other PDP-Laban members, they signed a manifesto supporting Pacquiao and denouncing “personalities” behind the “illegal assembly held at Clark field in Pampanga. 

“We are wondering why we now have so many politicians who have emerged to claim that they are PDP-Laban members but we, who are original members, are now being eased out. We will not allow these hitchhikers to gain control of the party that we established,” he said.

The infighting in both camps continue! Will ‘Duterte triumph? How about Trump?

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A veteran journalist in the Philippines and an award-winning journalist in the US. For feedbacks, comments email estiokoelpidio@gmail.com.

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