Planned PDP-Laban assembly illegitimate even with Duterte there — party exec

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com
Planned PDP-Laban assembly illegitimate even with Duterte there â party exec
In this Oct. 16, 2019 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte chats with Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi on the sidelines of the Switch-on Celebration of San Buenaventura Power Ltd. Co. 500-Megawatt Supercritical Coal-Fired Power Plant at the Grand Hyatt Manila in Taguig City
Presidential Photo / Karl Norman Alonzo

MANILA, Philippines — Regardless of President Rodrigo Duterte's attendance, the upcoming PDP-Laban assembly this Saturday will not be recognized by national headquarters, the son of the ruling party's founder said. 

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said this Thursday, referring to a national assembly organized by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, who was recently expelled from the party by Sen. Manny Pacquiao, PDP-Laban president. 

"[T]he authority to hold such a meeting has been questioned and is not recognized therefore they are holding an activity with no legal basis for holding it," Pimentel told CNN Philippines' "The Source."

"So, if they succeed in physically holding such an activity, from the point of view of national headquarters, [its] as if nothing happened." 

Duterte plans on attending the assembly anyway, according to his spokesman. 

READ: Despite expulsion from PDP-Laban, Palace says Duterte recognizes Cusi's leadership

But Pimentel said even the attendance of the "the most popular person in the party" will do nothing to reverse the "violation and defects" of the assembly. 

"[W]hen it comes to the party, when you call for a meeting, you do not keep the party president blind to the details of the event," Pimentel said partially in Filipino.

The senator, who is the party's executive vice-chairman, told the Kapihan Sa Manila Bay forum on Wednesday that the PDP-Laban president is the most critical party official under its constitution and that "he should know everything happening in the party."

"It is impossible for the [party] president to be blind, he should not be blind...that is the design for the constitution," he said then. 

Pacquiao, who is embroiled in a public squabble with Duterte, is in the US to prepare for a boxing match.

He previously instructed members to skip a national assembly organized by Cusi on May 31. At the same assembly, the PDP-Laban members adopted a resolution urging Duterte to run as vice president for 2022. 

Pimentel on Wednesday questioned whether the party members attending the assemblies arranged by Cusi have been properly screened as qualified members of PDP-Laban. 

He said he had documents from national headquarters showing several "non-compliant" members within the party. 

Pimentel also said he was initially confused by the rift caused between the faction wanting Duterte to seek the vice presidency and the other faction wanting Pacquiao to seek the presidency as they could have formed a ticket. 

It was only through media reports, he said, that he understood that some members wanted an outsider to run for the presidency alongside Duterte in 2022. 

Some members of the party have said that they want Duterte to run with his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio. 

Pimentel said having an outside as PDP-Laban's standard-bearer would cause problems because that would make it difficult to hold them accountable to party principles. 

Lacson, Sotto meet with Aksyon Demokratiko 

As rifts appear to worsen within the country's ruling party, others seem to be looking to forge alliances ahead of 2022. 

Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who have said they are considering a bid for the nation's two highest posts next year, recently met with leaders of the Aksyon Demokratiko party as part of their "consultative" tour. 

A photo posted by Sotto on Instagram earlier Thursday shows him and Lacson holding what he called "auspicious talks" with Aksyon Demokratiko members including his nephew Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto. 

Aksyon Demokratiko, which identifies as a progressive party, endorsed the full slate of opposition candidates in 2019 and the late President Benigno Aquino III in 2010.  

Sotto is chairman of the Nationalist People’s Coalition.

READ: LP reaching out to Lacson, Villanueva, Binay, Moreno to build ‘broadest coalition’ for 2022 polls

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