Cusi faction knocks out Pacquiao as PDP-Laban president

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Cusi faction knocks out Pacquiao as PDP-Laban president
Sen. Manny Pacquiao speaks at the Senate's plenary hall in this undated photo.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines (Update 2, 6:13 p.m.) — The Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi delivered a blow to Sen. Manny Pacquiao, knocking him out as the ruling party's president.

Cusi was elected as PDP-Laban's new president in a national assembly held in Pampanga presided over by party chairman President Rodrigo Duterte, effectively replacing Pacquiao.

Before this, the Cusi-led faction declared all national officer positions and chairmanships vacant, including Pacquiao's post.

Despite effectively ousting Pacquiao, the Cusi faction denies that it ousted the boxer-lawmaker.

"He is not ousted. PDP[-Laban] constitution gives the national officers a term of two years. Everyone is acting on holdover capacity," Secretary General Melvin Matibag told reporters.

The Pacquiao faction, backed by Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel — who is the son of PDP-Laban founder, the late Sen. Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr. — maintained that the national assembly which ousted him as president was "illegal."

Claiming the support of more than 100 PDP-Laban chapters nationwide, the Pacquiao-Pimentel group said that all actions made at the Cusi-led assembly have no force and effect over the party.

Pimentel also rallied PDP-Laban members to continue to believe in the leadership of Pacquiao, whom he still referred to as the party president.

The removal of Pacquiao as party president can be seen as a retaliation by the Cusi faction to his move to expel him and two other party officials from the party for supposedly showing allegiance to another political party by backing Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio’s potential presidential bid.

Pacquiao’s expulsion of Cusi, Deputy Secretary General Melvin Matibag and membership committee head Astra Naik was overturned and declared illegal during a national council meeting on Friday which the boxer-lawmaker’s faction said was unauthorized.

The rift within the ruling party has been widening since some members called on Duterte to run for vice president, which has been opposed by Pacquiao who has appealed to members to focus on the pandemic first before politics.

Cusi, however, has said that the divide in PDP-Laban started when Pacquiao was installed as acting president, which surprised some of its members.

Duterte himself said it was Pimentel's "mistake" of thrusting Pacquiao to the helm of the party which led to the current infighting within PDP-Laban.

"Ang nagkamali diyan si Koko, hindi si Pacquiao. Pacquiao does not know anything," Duterte said at the national assembly.

(Koko made a mistake, not Pacquiao. Pacquiao does not know anything.)

Duterte, as well as his spokesman Harry Roque, have been throwing barbs at Pacquiao in recent weeks over a statement that the senator supposedly made that corruption has tripled under the current administration.

Pacquiao has clarified he is not attacking the president, just helping him in the campaign against corruption in government.


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