Cusi: Pacquiao can still join admin senatorial slate

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Cusi: Pacquiao can still join admin senatorial slate
This file photo shows Sen. Manny Pacquiao during a break at the Senate session hall.
Win Gatchalian / Released, file

MANILA, Philippines — The ruling PDP-Laban on Tuesday named five of its senatorial candidates for next year's elections, majority of whom are members of the Cabinet.

It also said there is space on its ticket for Sen. Manny Pacquiao, who was removed as party president last month when leadership positions were declared vacant. Pacquiao, a long-time supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, been a target of the president's comments in recent months.

Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gregorio Honasan II, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar and House Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta (SAGIP party list) would form part of the senatorial slate, PDP-Laban executive vice president Karlo Nograles, who is also Cabinet secretary, said in a statement.

The party is expected to come up with a complete list of its senatorial line-up before its national convention on September 8.

"We in PDP-Laban continue to dialogue and talk to the different possible candidates for the Senate," Nograles told One News.

"During the national convention, we will be nominating our presidential nominee... and then of course, President Duterte would be our candidate for vice president, and then we have five (individuals in the) initial list of (senatorial candidates) and we need to complete the list. We'll take it one day at a time or maybe a week at a time," he added.

Nograles said Duterte would have a say on PDP-Laban's senatorial line-up as the party's national chairman.

Factions in ruling party

The announcement of PDP-Laban's senatorial bets came as the party is facing a dispute between the factions of Pacquiao and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

Pacquiao, who is said to be eyeing the presidency next year, has refused to recognize the PDP-Laban leaders elected last month, claiming the event violated the party's constitution.

Cusi's group insists that the election followed the party's charter and that those who attended the event are authorized to represent their respective councils. Pacquiao's relationship with Duterte has also gone sour after he criticized the alleged corruption in government.

Cusi urged Pacquiao to consider joining the senatorial ticket of the ruling party.

"As I have said before, it would be best for Sen. Pacquiao to join the senatorial ticket of the PDP-Laban in the 2022 elections. Despite our differences, he remains our member and we would certainly welcome him if he so decides to run for senator under our party," Cusi said.

Cusi said running for re-election is a "good political option" for Pacquiao.

"He (Pacquiao) would have the full support of the entire political machinery of PDP-Laban, giving him a strong fighting chance of securing a seat in the Senate. Another term in the Senate would give him more experience and insight in governance that would be invaluable for his future political plans," Cusi said.

If Pacquiao agrees to run for senator under the ruling party, it would set a good example that party members could rise above personal political differences for the common good, the energy secretary added.

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