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Cusi-led camp proceeds with PDP-Laban meet

Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star
Cusi-led camp proceeds with PDP-Laban meet
Cusi, PDP-Laban vice chairman, presided over the party meeting at the Royce Hotel in Clark, Pampanga. Last week, he was expelled by the party’s national executive committee (NEC) led by Sen. Manny Pacquiao and Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, president and executive vice chairman, respectively, of the party.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The PDP-Laban faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi – backed by President Duterte – pushed through with its disputed assembly yesterday, calling for unity even as it moved to sanction top officers and members for allegedly violating the party’s constitution.

Cusi, PDP-Laban vice chairman, presided over the party meeting at the Royce Hotel in Clark, Pampanga. Last week, he was expelled by the party’s national executive committee (NEC) led by Sen. Manny Pacquiao and Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, president and executive vice chairman, respectively, of the party.

The meeting opened with the participants overturning and declaring as “illegal” the resolution signed by Pacquiao expelling Cusi, party secretary general Melvin Matibag and membership committee head Astra Naik.

“I call for a stop on all party hostilities. I ask all members. Do not divide this party. Do not burn bridges. We have shown that we can work together in the past, let us work together again for the future,” he said.

A resolution signed by over 30 PDP-Laban members in Congress led by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco was read, where the lawmakers called for the convening of the national assembly led by Duterte as well as the continued service of Cusi.

A resolution was passed to elect national officers of the party today, where Pacquiao is expected to be ousted, and possibly remove Pimentel from his post.

The meeting also moved to create a national council of elders to be chaired by Duterte with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado.

In an apparent move to mend fences – or divide the NEC – PDP-Laban vice president for external affairs Raul Lambino said Pimentel was invited to be a member of the council of elders to “represent” his father, the late Senate president Aquilino Pimentel Jr., who founded the party 39 years ago.

Pimentel earlier insisted PDP-Laban will not recognize the meeting, which he calls “unauthorized” despite Duterte siding with Cusi’s faction.

Pimentel said that instead of dividing and dissolving PDP-Laban in insisting on his agenda of fielding a non-party member as standard bearer in the 2022 elections, Cusi should just leave and form his own party.

Attendance

President Duterte is attending PDP-Laban’s national assembly today even if the camp of Pimentel and Pacquiao threatened to expel erring members.

The President’s allies have signed a resolution urging him to run for vice president, an idea which Duterte said he is sold on.

After the event, Duterte will inspect the newly completed terminal building of the Clark International Airport in Clark Field, Pampanga.

Acting secretary general Matibag called for the national council meeting and national assembly even if he and Cusi were sacked by Pimentel’s group for supporting the possible presidential bid of a non-party member.

Backing

Hours before the assembly, Pacquiao told a radio interview from the US that the meeting was not only unauthorized and violating the PDP-Laban constitution, but also does not have the backing of nearly 100,000 members of the party.

“If the reality of members, the active grassroots members (is to be considered), I have their support. How many attended their assembly? How can you compare that to the 100 or so who attended (the meeting)?” Pacquiao told dzBB in Filipino.

“I’m fighting not for one, or two, or three powerful politicians. This is not supposed to be a party for the rich or powerful politicians,” he said.

Pacquiao also asked those attacking him, including Duterte, not to belittle him as he alleged that there are efforts to rattle him as he prepares to fight Errol Spence on Aug. 21. –  Christina Mendez

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