Pacquiao KO’d as PDP-Laban party president

Senator Manny Pacquiao | Senate photo by Joseph Vidal

PHILIPPINE Senator Manny Pacquiao has been ousted as the president of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

During the national assembly held in Pampanga on Saturday, July 17, the ruling party announced the vacancies of all national officer positions and committee chairs, removing Pacquiao from his post.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi was later installed as his replacement.

“Maraming, maraming salamat po sa tiwalang ibinigay niyo sa akin at makakaasa po kayo na (Thank you very much for the trust that you have given me and rest assured) I will live by the oath that I took in front of you,” Cusi said after he was sworn in by President Rodrigo Duterte, the party’s chairman.

Cusi’s election came a week after Pacquiao expelled him and two other party officials for supposedly violating provisions of the party’s constitution “by showing allegiance to a political party apart from PDP-Laban.”

The national assembly was attended by at least 82 of the some 250 voting PDP-Laban delegates, including Senators Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa and Christopher “Bong” Go, as well as House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.

Pacquiao, who dubbed the assembly as “unauthorized,” is currently in Los Angeles, California where he is training for his bout with American boxer Errol Spence Jr. on August 22.

Pimentel to blame
In defense of Cusi’s election, Duterte blamed Senator Koko Pimentel, the party’s executive vice-chairperson, for appointing Pacquiao as acting president of PDP-Laban back in December 2020.

According to Duterte, there is nothing in the party’s by-laws “which would provide for an acting president solely upon the push and shove of the president.”

“You just do not push somebody there. ‘O sige, ikaw na muna mag-presidente’ (‘You can now serve as the president’). That is not how things are done,” he said during the national assembly.

“Ang nagkamali diyan si, ang nagkamali diyan si Koko, hindi si Pacquiao (It is Koko’s mistake, not Pacquiao’s). Pacquiao does not know anything. Totoo, kung anumang sabihin, hindi naman nagbabasa yan eh. Basta kung anong sabihin ng mga ano nya, sunod (It’s true, whatever was said, he never reads the fine print anyway. Whatever his people say, he follows),” he added.

Duterte reminded Pimentel that PDP-Laban “only woke up” during the election because of him.

“May I just remind Koko that this party, PDP, was asleep for a hundred years. It only woke up during the election when I ran for the presidency under the ticket,” he said.

“It was a father and son party period, wala nang iba (just that). And they are not even recognized in Cagayan de Oro City, totoo ‘yan (it’s true),” he added.

Pacquiao-Pimentel faction hits back
For his part, Pacquiao slammed the assembly for prioritizing politics over the country’s COVID-19 situation, which has taken another hit after the entry of the Delta variant.

“Nakakalungkot na nakapasok na ang Delta variant sa Pilipinas at kapag hindi maagapan, marami ang maaaring mahawa. Ito dapat ang prayoridad ng ating gobyerno (It’s unfortunate that the Delta variant has entered the Philippines, and if we fail to act quickly, many people can contract it. This should be our government’s priority),” he said.

“Kung sa tingin nila Cusi at iba pa na mas importante ang politika sa ngayon, bahala na sila. Sa huli, isa lang naman ang tanong na dapat sagutin: Sino ba ang sasamahan ng taumbayan (If Cusi and the others think that politics is more important now, so be it. In the end, only one question needs to be answered: Whom will the people side with)?” he added.

Meanwhile, Pimentel called the national assembly “illegal,” saying it had no force and effect since it was not sanctioned by Pacquiao.

He also urged the party members to continue to believe in Pacquiao’s leadership.

“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 (We are facing an obstacle in our party which is why it’s important to continue to be strong and believe in the leadership of our party’s president, Senator Manny Pacquiao),” Pimentel said in a Zoom meeting attended by over 100 PDP-Laban chapters nationwide.

Still members
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, who was elected as the party’s new executive vice president, maintained the election was “done by the book.”

“Everything was done by the book…All the members who voted in the national council and assembly are those who are authorized to vote as per the constitution of PDP-Laban and as per official records submitted to the Commission on Elections by no less than Sen. Pimentel himself,” he told CNN Philippines’ The Source on Monday, July 19.

And while both Pacquiao and Pimentel were booted out from their posts, Nograles said that they are still party members.

“They are still members of PDP-Laban,” he said.

“Alam ‘nyo in the party itself, hindi naman yan basta bastang mag-e-expel ka ng member ng partido. May dadaanang, like I said, grievance mechanism yan and may appeals pa nga yan (You know, in the party itself, you cannot just expel any member of the party. You have to undergo, like I said, grievance mechanism and they can even appeal),” he added.

In a separate DWIZ interview, Go urged Pacquiao and Pimentel to cooperate.

“Sen. Koko, magkasama naman tayo, at Sen. Manny, sana maayos na rin po itong gusot (Sen. Koko, we are colleagues, anyway, and Sen. Manny, I hope we can settle this issue),” he said.

“Sayang naman na po at magkahati, watak-watak kami (It’s will be a waste if we are divided),” he added.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at ritchel.mendiola@asianjournalinc.com.

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