Pimentel dubs warning from ‘unpatriotic’ Cusi group as ‘bluff meant to distract’ Pacquiao
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Thursday branded as a “bluff” and a distraction the Cusi-led group’s warning to expel Senator Manny Pacquiao from ruling party PDP-Laban.
The faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has warned Pacquiao of expulsion over an alleged effort to convert the People’s Champ Movement (PCM) from a regional party into a national political party.
“This issue is all a BLUFF meant to distract Senator Manny Pacquiao from his world championship boxing bout,” Pimentel said in a series of tweets.
“This is the first time that a group of Filipinos, because of politics, has organized an effort meant to distract our Pambansang Kamao while he fights in the boxing ring to bring additional honor to our country. How unpatriotic of this group of politicians!” he added.
Pimentel, executive vice chairman and son of PDP-Laban founder late Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., pointed out that party rules do not bar members from having memberships in PDP-Laban and a regional party at the same time.
“The PDP LABAN constitution has consistently been interpreted by knowledgeable leaders of the party over the decades not to prohibit membership in the party and membership in a regional political party at the same time,” said the senator, who wrote the party’s constitution.
In warning Pacquiao of expulsion, the Cusi-led group shared screenshots of the alleged minutes of the meeting of PCM during their organizational meeting on December 20, 2020, in General Santos City.
But Pimentel said that these also showed that Pacquiao “gave up the presidency” of PCM within days of becoming PDP-Laban’s president.
“This was an act which was not even required of him to do,” Pimentel added.
Pacquiao was sworn in as PDP-Laban president on December 3, 2020. The senator was replaced by Cusi, who was elected in a July 17 assembly this year.
Both Pacquiao and Pimentel, however, do not recognize the legitimacy of the said event.
Meanwhile, a statement from the party’s national headquarters shared by PDP-Laban Executive Director Ron Munsayac to reporters said Pacquiao’s continuous allegiance to PDP-Laban remains “unquestionable.”
Munsayac is identified with the Pacquiao faction.
“No one questioned his authority and resolve in always supporting the candidates who are members of PDP Laban adhering to its Principles and Objectives. His has no allegiance to any candidate who is a member of another national party,” the statement read.
“The desperation of the claims against Senator Manny Pacquiao show the malicious nature of the cause of the usurpers and expelled members of PDP Laban who have no rights or authority whatsoever to represent or lead the Party,” it added, referring to Cusi, Matibag, and another official, who were earlier expelled by Pacquiao and the party’s National Executive Committee.
“Also, the expelled members are leading a group illegally acting as the leaders of the Party without any basis or authority. All their acts are therefore null and void for being in utter violation of the Party Constitution,” the statement further read.
Their expulsion, however, was nullified by the Cusi-led faction during the July 17 assembly.
As the infighting within PDP-Laban continues, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) would now have to decide which of the two factions is the legitimate party leadership.
Both factions have already submitted their respective Sworn Information and Update Statement (SIUS) to Comelec ahead of the Aug. 15 deadline before the 2022 elections.
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