The camp of senators Manny Pacquiao and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III denounced the “illegal” national assembly held by the administration-backed faction of ruling party PDP-Laban on Saturday, July 17.
Pimentel held a simultaneous Zoom meeting with some 100 chapter leaders nationwide, as well as other “bona fide and original grassroots members of the party.”
The founding member and son of the founder, the late Senate president Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr, reminded members to stay united behind the leadership of Pacquiao.
“Tayo po ay may hinaharap na pagsubok ngayon sa ating partido, kaya ang importante ay manatili po tayong malakas at magtiwala sa liderato ng ating partido sa ilalim ng ating presidente na si Senator Manny Pacquiao. Huwag po tayong mag-alala kasi ang talagang ipinaglalaban namin dito ay ‘yung boses po ng ating mga chapter members sa buong bansa,” Pimentel said.
(We are currently facing a challenge within the party, that is why it’s important that we remain strong and that we trust the leadership of our president Senator Manny Pacquiao. Don’t worry because we are fighting for the voices of our chapter members in the whole country.)
The camp maintains that all actions made during the “illegal assembly” have no force and effect over the party.
The statement cited Jovel Lopez, supposedly a PDP-Laban community leader in Bulacan and a party cadre, who questioned “party newcomers and interlopers” for grabbing control of the party.
“Nagtataka nga po kami kung bakit ngayon eh ang daming nagsulputang mga politiko na nagsasabing PDP daw sila at kami pa na mga orihinal na miyembro ang naitsapwera. Hindi naman po kami basta-basta makakapayag na itong mga sabit na ito ang mamayagpag sa partidong aming itinayo,” Lopez said.
(We are surprised to see that many politicians are now claiming they are PDP-Laban members and we, the original members, were the ones sidelined. We will not allow these interlopers to suddenly reign the party that we built.)
Pacquiao was ousted in a national assembly led by party chairman and President Rodrigo Duterte himself. Duterte expressed support for Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, who replaced Pacquiao as party president.
Duterte also slammed Pimentel for starting the “ruckus,” and reminded the senator that the party would not be as big as it is now if it weren’t for him.
In a separate statement, Pacquiao, who is in the United States to train for a boxing match, said the government should not prioritize politics especially during the pandemic.
“Nakakalungkot na nakapasok na ang Delta variant sa Pilipinas at kapag hindi maagapan, marami ang maaaring mahawa. Ito dapat ang prayoridad ng ating gobyerno (It is sad that there are now cases of Delta variant in the country. This should be the priority of our government),” Pacquiao said.
“Kung sa tingin nila Cusi at iba pa na mas importante ang politika sa ngayon, bahala na sila. Sa huli, isa lang naman ang tanong na dapat sagutin. Sino ba ang sasamahan ng taumbayan? (If Cusi and the others think that politics is more important now, then it’s up to them. In the end, we only have one question to answer: Who will the people choose?)”
Pimentel said said the gathering on Saturday “is not recognized by the existing PDP-Laban leadership.”
“Since Secretary Cusi wants to be a stickler for rules, then he should follow all the rules of the party. You cannot make attendees to a PDP-Laban party assembly instant members of the party on the spot! As far as the present PDP-Laban leadership is concerned we will continue to function as the party,” Pimentel said in a statement. – Rappler.com