How should the Comelec rule on the PDP-Laban intramurals?

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

If the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will stick to the history and the ideology of the party, as founded by the late Senate president Nene Pimentel (for PDP) and Ninoy Aquino (for Laban), then the one and only party is the one led by former Senate president Koko Pimentel and Senator Manny Pacquiao. This is the party of idealism and integrity, fighters against dictatorship and corruption. But with the incumbent Comelec, I am not optimistic.

If it is based on numbers of alleged members and vastness of logistics and machinery, however, then the faction of Secretary Alfonso Cusi and President Duterte wins. If we consider pragmatism and not idealism, and if we admit that the winners need not be the better men, then, I submit that most probably, then the true PDP loses to the intruders. Most of the Comelec commissioners are appointed by the president, and they understand the importance of membership support. Idealism cannot win an election. There have been too many good men who were idealistic but did not have funds. They all lost, and the Comelec understands that. This intramural will not be decided on the basis of law and principles alone. It will most probably be resolved based of pragmatism and expediency.

The original PDP was founded on February 6, 1982 in Cebu City by Nene Pimentel, with Ribomapil Holganza as its first secretary-general. Laban or Lakas ng Bayan was founded inside the Fort Bonifacio detention cell of Ninoy Aquino in 1978. The two parties merged in 1986. As of May 2016, it was headed by Koko Pimentel. The party adopted then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte after he decided to run but had no party. There was a conflict when Jojo Binay who was then a PDP-Laban member also ran for president. He had to leave the party and founded the UNA as his own political party. There was a leadership crisis in 2018 when PDP-Laban Speaker Bebot Alvarez was ousted by GMA, a non-party member but an ally of the president.

The current party dispute arose when the president authorized Secretary Cusi to convene a general membership meeting, one that was held without the presence of the vice chairman, Senator Manny Pacquiao. The senator disowned the meeting and declared it unauthorized. With Koko Pimentel, Pacquiao went on TV declaring that the party will not endorse a non-party member as an official candidate. This refers to Mayor Inday Sara and Senator Bong Go. This is the crux of the controversy. Pacquiao then denounced many acts of graft and corruption in government, and he was immediately rebuffed by Malacañang. Many say, including Manny, that the current Senate investigations and the COA reports have vindicated him in calling the Department of Health the most corrupt of all.

The strongest rebuff of them all was the ouster of Senator Pacquiao from the national leadership of PDP-Laban. After the boxing match of the senator against Ugas, the faction led by Senator Koko Pimentel retaliated by ousting the president as chairman of the party and replacing Duterte with Pimentel himself. These retaliatory actions made by both factions against each other are weakening the party and are sowing confusion down the line. The Comelec, therefore, should resolve these intra-union disputes prior to the date of the filing for candidacy, otherwise both factions may submit two different slates, and the preparation of official ballots may be undermined and delayed.

At the end of the day, only two people can find a solution to this problem without the intervention of the Comelec; the president and the senator from Sarangani. They should be mature and patriotic, if you will, to save the nation from these intramurals. We are facing a serious public health crisis and economic devastation. We should be spared from this internal problem of the party.

The two gentlemen from Mindanao should meet and agree on a win-win solution and spare the Comelec from such a distraction. They should show the rest of the nation that Mindanaoans can solve their own problem without burdening the whole country with such political bickering.

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