PDP-Laban declares support for Marcos

PDP-Laban declares support for Marcos
Members of the Cusi wing of PDP-Laban clench their fists in the signature pose of President Rodrigo Duterte during their national convention on September 8, 2021.
PDP-Laban Cusi wing

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 10:56 a.m.) — A faction of the administration PDP-Laban party has declared support for presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Marcos and running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio are running under the UniTeam slate of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats and the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas. PDP-Laban previously declared support for Mayor Duterte — daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte, who is party chairman. 

The party's National Executive Committee, in a resolution, said that it had decided after "careful and exhaustive deliberations" that it will "[endorse] the candidacy of Senator Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. for president of the Republic of the Philippines [in] the forthcoming 2022 National Elections."

The committee said Marcos' platform is "most aligned with the development program of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte" and with the party's legislative and political agenda.

In a statement, the Marcos campaign thanked PDP-Laban for the support and said the "trust [the party] placed in him inspires us beyond measure, for it signals that our message of national unity is gaining ground."

"We are glad the PDP-Laban has joined the bandwagon of support for the BBM-Sara UniTeam of major political parties in the country," Marcos spokesperson Vic Rodriguez said.

The party, whose membership grew after Duterte became president in 2016, is fielding seven official candidates, according to its press advisory: former Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission chair Greco Belgica, former Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones, broadcaster Rey Langit, Rep. Rodante Marcoleta (SAGIP party-list), former actor Robin Padilla, former presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo and Astra Pimentel.

PDP-Laban's search for a standard-bearer

The PDP-Laban faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi had initially named Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go and President Rodrigo Duterte as its candidates for the May elections.

It eventually fielded Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa as its standard-bearer, with Go running for vice president but a flurry of substitutions saw Dela Rosa backing out and Go subsituting as presidential candidate of a minor allied party. Go later also withdrew as a presidential candidate, leaving the party with no standard-bearer.

Running on a theme of unity, the tandem also has the backing of former president Joseph Ejercito Estrada's Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino and Duterte-Carpio’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago while former Public Works Secretary Mark Villar of the influential Villar clan is part of its senatorial slate.

Party stalwart Pimentel calls Cusi-led faction usurpers

The move to endorse the younger Marcos is a turnaround for the PDP-Laban, which was originally founded as an opposition coalition. It was a merger between the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino founded by Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. and Lakas ng Bayan (Laban) by Benigno "Ninoy  Aquino Jr. 

PDP-Laban, a minority party until 2016, had rebranded itself in Duterte's image as its membership grew. It redesigned its party logo to incorporate Duterte's signature clenched fist and styled itself as "Partido Demokratiko Pilipino" without Aquino's Laban. 

The party began to fracture in March 2021, with a faction led by Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel Jr. backing Sen. Manny Pacquiao's candidacy for president. In July 2021, the Cusi-led faction declared party positions vacant and an assembly that Pacquiao — until then party president — had said was illegitimate elected Cusi as party president and President Duterte as chairman.

The dispute has been brought to the Commission on Elections, with Pacquiao running under an allied party while the matter is pending.

"With this latest action from [Secretary] Cusi and his cohorts, they have manifested that they are total strangers to PDP LABAN. They don’t even know that PDP LABAN was established to oppose the Marcos dictatorship. Time for Comelec to dismiss the petition of these usurpers," Pimentel said in a tweet on Tuesday.

This is a developing story.

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