MANILA/LOS ANGELES  — The infighting within the ruling PDP-Laban party continues to worsen as the faction of Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao and Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel submitted to the Commission on Elections its own set of officers.

This as Vice President Leni Robredo has opened the door for more exploratory talks with Pacquiao, who is perceived to be running for president in 2022, in her search for a united slate against the administration ticket expected to be led by presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

Robredo also revealed similar talks with Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto as well as Sen. Richard Gordon has not been closed.

The PDP-Laban faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, meanwhile, adopted a resolution endorsing Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go as standard bearer and Duterte as vice presidential bet in the 2022 elections.

PDP-Laban Executive Director and spokesperson Ron Munsayac said grassroots members supportive of Pacquiao believe the Go-Duterte tandem is a “smokescreen” to cover their support for presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte of the regional group Hugpong Ng Pagbabago.

Kasi wala namang naniniwalang magkalaban silang dalawa… Si Bong Go vs. Sara, wala pong naniniwala. So tingin po ng mga partymates namin sa baba e smokescreen lang ito, distraction lang po ito,” Munsayac said.

In a related development, it seems there is no stopping Senator Pacquiao from running for president in the May 9, 2022 elections.
This according to his spokesman, former congressman Monico Puentevella, who said Pacquiao’s presidential bid is “already cast in stone.” Deputy Speaker Jose Atienza Jr. also said the senator will be running for president and he will support him.
Puentevella said Pacquiao will resume talks with Vice President Leni Robredo, who is perceived to be the Liberal Party and 1Sambayan bet for president, when he returns to the Philippines after his August 21 boxing match in  Las Vegas, Nevada.
Meanwhile, the Aksyon Demokratiko Party vowed to support its new member Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso, more popularly known by his actor’s name Isko Moreno, should he pursue his presidential bid.

Aksyon Demokratiko Secretary General Ernest Ramel said that Moreno will be their priority if he decides to seek the highest post in the land. Moreno’s supporters said the mayor  may run for president now that he is being battered by President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

“I’m sure they’ll meet again when MP (Manny Pacquiao) comes back,” Puentevella said in a CNN television interview. “MP always meets with people who want to meet with him. Nothing to lose ’cause he’s running for President,” he added.
Robredo earlier disclolsed that she has talked with Pacquiao at least twice in an effort to build a “broader alliance” and find a “common ground” among other political contenders ahead of the polls. She has also met with Sen. Panfilo Lacson who has declared his intention to run for president.
Puentevella  said Pacquiao’s fight on August 21 could be last fight.

Pacquiao was ousted by party officials of the ruling PDP-Laban, a group that is now supporting a Senator Bong Go and President Rodrigo Duterte tandem for the 2022 polls. Pacquiao, however, maintained that his replacement by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi was invalid as Cusi has been previously ousted as PDP-Laban member.

 

Cusi earlier denied pushing for a Duterte-Duterte tandem but said the party would consider if the President chooses his daughter as running mate.

In a statement, Go reiterated that he is not interested in seeking the presidency. He earlier said he would change his mind if the President agreed to be his running mate.

With the new development, it’s now up to the Comelec to settle the infighting in the  PDP-Laban party as two factions have submitted different sets of officers to the poll body.

The group led by Senator Pacquiao, erstwhile president of PDP-Laban, has confirmed that they  submitted their own Sworn Information Update Statement – which contains the list of party officers – to the Comelec last month.

Nakapagfile na kami ng SIUS noong July pa (We already filed our SIUS in July),” PDP-Laban Executive Director Ron Munsayac said.

Munsayac did not disclose details, including the exact date of filing and the names of officers and stressed that as far as their group is concerned, then party vice chairman Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has been expelled from the party along with Secretary General Melvin Matibag and Membership Committee Chairperson Astra Naik.

On Aug. 4, the Cusi wing also submitted their SIUS to the Comelec and even released a copy of the document the next day. It was signed by Cusi and party chairman President Rodrigo Duterte.. It contained the names of 16 national officers led by Cusi as president elected during a national assembly presided over by Duterte but contested by the Pacquiao camp.

Under the Comelec’s calendar of activities for the 2022 elections, all political parties have to submit their SIUS by August 15. Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.

Jimenez said that if factions within a party submit different documents, the commission would conduct a hearing to determine which one is legitimate, based on which group followed the party constitution and bylaws.

There was a precedent in the PDP-Laban infighting in the 2019 midterm elections. Comelec sided with the group led by Senator  Pimentel III in the dispute with lawyer Rogelio Garcia. The decision was upheld by the Supreme Court. Pimentel and Garcia both claimed to be the party presidents, similar to the case now with Pacquiao and Cusi.

 

Last December, Pimentel stepped down and appointed Pacquiao as party president, igniting tension in the party.

Kasi wala namang naniniwalang magkalaban silang dalawa… Si Bong Go vs. Sara, wala pong naniniwala. So tingin po ng mga partymates namin sa baba e smokescreen lang ito, distraction lang po ito [ Because no one believes that they will go against each other… Bong Go vs. Sara, nobody is buying that. Our party mates in the grassroots think it’s just a smokescreen, it’s just a distraction.],” Munsayac said.

Cusi earlier denied pushing for a Duterte-Duterte tandem but said the party would consider if the President chooses his daughter as running mate.

In a statement, Go reiterated that he is not interested in seeking the presidency. He earlier said he would change his mind if the President agreed to be his running mate.