Cusi faction in PDP-Laban asks Comelec to declare Pacquiao camp as illegitimate

MANILA, Philippines — The PDP-Laban faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has asked the Commission on Elections to declare the group led by Senators Manny Pacquiao and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III as illegitimate.

PDP-Laban Secretary General Melvin Matibag confirmed that the political group had filed a petition before the Comelec against Pimentel and Pacquiao’s camp group, which, he said, was “usurping party authority and pretending to be representatives of our party.”

“The matter is now with the Comelec and we will let the established Law, Rules, and Regulations prevail,” he said in a message to reporters.

“We shall refrain from discussing the specific issues raised in our Petition out of respect to the Commission,” he added.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez also confirmed the filing of the petition.

In its petition, the Cusi wing asked the Comelec to junk the “unauthorized” sown information update statements, which contained the list of officers, submitted by the Pacquiao-Pimentel wing before the poll body.

They also asked Comelec to stop Pacquiao, Pimentel, and their allies from committing acts that would “run against the constitution of PDP-Laban and usurp the authority of the legitimate officials of the ruling party” through a temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction.

“This is a petition to declare the group led by respondents as illegitimate officers/and or otherwise unauthorized representatives of petitioners PDP-Laban,” Cusi said in a statement.

The petition asked Comelec to recognize Cusi as party president and concurrent vice-chairman while Matibag as legitimate secretary-general, as they are elected as such in a national assembly on July 17 this year.

The PDP-Laban has been split into two factions as they aim to support different candidates in the 2022 elections.

The Cusi wing has endorsed the tandem of Senator Bong Go and President Rodrigo Duterte as its standard-bearers in the 2022 elections, while the Pimentel camp eyes Pacquiao to be its presidential candidate. 

Go has rejected the party’s nomination for president while Duterte accepted. 

Meanwhile, Pacquiao-Pimentel has ousted President Duterte as chairman of the ruling party and replaced him with Senator Pimentel.

The PDP Laban Cusi wing is set to reveal and nominate its set of candidates for the 2022 elections on Wednesday, Sept. 8.

In response to the petition filed, the Pimentel-Pacquiao wing insisted that its group is recognized by the grassroots members and senior leaders of the party.

“The leadership of Chairman Aquilino Koko Pimentel is recognized by the grassroots members and senior leaders of the PDP Laban who have stood by and loyally represented the ideals of the party as envisioned by its founding members since 1982,” PDP-Laban Pimentel-Pacquiao camp executive director Ron Munsayac said in a statement.

“Senator Manny Pacquiao continues to enjoy the confidence of the PDP-Laban stalwarts. Any statement to the contrary is a lame attempt to undermine the public’s trust in his leadership and anti-corruption advocacy,” he added.