What's PROMDI, the Cebu-based party that's endorsing Pacquiao for president?

After conflicts with the Cusi faction of PDP-Laban, retired boxer and Senator Manny Pacquiao pushed through with filing his candidacy for the presidency anyway, but as candidate of the Cebu-based PROMDI party.

For Cebuanos and those who follow Philippine politics, it’s been a while since PROMDI has been in the headlines. 

What is PROMDI?

The national party was formed in 1997 by former Cebu governor Lito Osmeña when he ran for president in 1998. Before he died in July, one of Osmeña’s last public wishes was to revive his party, which had been dormant since the mid-2000s.

The last time the party was active was when Lito ran for president – and lost – with Ismael Sueño, a former South Cotabato governor, as his running mate for vice president.  

The core of the party is “devolution” or passing down state powers to local governments. PROMDI (also Abag-Promdi) stands for Progressive Movement for the Devolution of Initiatives or Probinsya Muna Development Initiative.

PROMDI itself, of course, is Filipino slang for someone who is from the provinces.

Osmeña is best remembered as the governor who ushered in a period of rapid economic development in Cebu. He believed that an overly centralized government is the reason for the uneven development and distribution of wealth in the Philippines. 

This is a similar position Duterte had when ran in 2016 when he pushed for – then later abandoned – a federal system of government in the Philippines. 

Electoral performance

During the 1998 election, Osmeña won with 3.347 million votes, placing fourth. Joseph “Erap” Estrada won that election with over 10 million votes.

The party won four seats in the house, including one party-list seat, represented by Joy Augustus Young.

Aside from Lito, prominent members of the party included former mayor of Cebu City Tomas Osmeña and his vice mayor then, Mike Rama. 

Prior to the second EDSA Revolution in 2001, PROMDI joined the pro-Arroyo People Power Coalition, along with Lakas–Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD); Partido para sa Demokratikong Reporma (Reporma), Aksyon Demokratiko, the Liberal Party, and PDP-Laban. 

In the 2001 midterm election, PROMDI as a party-list was disqualified by the Commission on Elections for its failure to represent a marginalized group.

In 2004, the party turned anti-Arroyo, but supported the candidacy of Raul Roco. 

After Osmeña retired from political life, his party never took off like other local parties such as Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) of his cousin Tommy Osmeña, the Garcia-led One Cebu, and the Bakud party of the Durano family in northern Cebu.

The party currently does not have any members holding local office in Cebu City nor on the provincial board. But it hopes to change that come 2022.


Mimo Osmeña, Lito’s son, told Rappler in a text message that Pacquiao’s candidacy under the Cebu-based party would be a big boost for them.

“This is a chance for PROMDI’s mission of devolution to be furthered by all of our candidates,” Osmeña said.

When asked how many sworn-in members they have so far, Mimo replied, “The count is still ongoing nationwide.”

In Cebu City, only three candidates filed for city council. PROMDI also has Martin Lozada, who is running for Cebu governor, and John Enad, his running mate for vice governor. The party has five other candidates running for seats on the provincial board and Congress.

The late governor asked Mimo to run as the party’s candidate in the 1st District of Cebu City, but he did not file his candidacy. 

Still, with a politician/boxer as party standard-bearer and honorary chairperson, current PROMDI members are hopeful they can fulfill the late governor’s dream and make a comeback in 2022. – Rappler.com 

Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers Cebu and the Visayas for Rappler. He covers all news in the region, but is particularly interested in people stories, development issues and local policy making.