Duterte unaware, not consulted on Pacquiao taking over PDP-Laban presidency
MANILA, Philippines — The seeming rift within the ruling PDP-Laban began when Senator Manny Pacquiao was elected party president last December without President Rodrigo Duterte’s knowledge, a party official disclosed on Tuesday.
Duterte is currently the chairman of PDP-Laban.
“It began in December, when allegedly there was this thanksgiving party that was called and we were invited,” party vice-chairman, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, said on the ABS-CBN News Channel.
While he was invited in the party, Cusi said he was not able to attend because he had a meeting in Malacañang on the same day.
“And there I asked also the President if he’s going to the thanksgiving party and they didn’t know about the thanksgiving party, including Senato Bong Go,” he said.
The following morning, Cusi said they were just surprised to learn that the presidency was already turned over to Pacquiao, replacing Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.
Pimentel now serves as the party’s executive vice chairman.
“We have nothing against it. We kept silent and what we did was to ask for a meeting with Senator Koko Pimentel to find out what really happened,” Cusi went on.
But due to Pimentel’s busy schedule in the Senate, they could not meet with Cusi’s group until early February this year.
“Senator Koko explained to us that you know…to give Senator Pacquiao exposure because I believe that he has a plan to run for higher office. I said that we don’t mind that but I think that it’s best that we meet,” Cusi recalled his conversation with Pimentel.
Cusi said they attempted many times to set a meeting with Pacquiao, but “for whatever reasons” it did not materialize.
Asked if the transfer of the party presidency to Pacquiao was done behind their back, Cusi reiterated, “We were not informed when they made that decision.”
But Pimentel, when sought for comment, explained that “automatic succession doesn’t need permission to happen.”
“The Party has president and executive VP (EVP) among other officers. Under party rules, the EVP succeeds the president in case of vacancy in the position. The party president gave way hence EVP became president under party succession rules,” he said.
“Automatic succession doesn’t need permission to happen,” Pimentel added.
He did not also deny telling Cusi that giving the party presidency to Pacquiao would give the latter exposure for a possible run in 2022.
“One way to help a partymate running for national office (not necessarily ‘higher office’) is to give him national exposure and or a national platform through the party. (National office can be senator, VP, or Pres.) One small gesture from partymates helping each other,” the senator added.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.