Pacquiao appointed as PDP-Laban 'Senate leader'

MANILA, Philippines – Amid rumors of more lawmakers switching parties, the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) appointed Senator Manny Pacquiao as its "leader" in the Senate.

It was decided by PDP-Laban president and Senator Aquilino Pimentel III and party vice chairman and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi during a meeting with party leaders in Makati on Wednesday night, August 14.

They also appointed Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco to lead the lawmakers at the House of Representatives. Velasco was in a term-sharing agreement for the House speaker post with current Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.

Wednesday's meeting was attended by House leaders Deputy Speaker Johnny Pimentel and Deputy Speaker Dong Gonzales, and PDP-Laban officers deputy secretary-general Melvin Matibag and its spokesperson Ron Munsayac.

Apart from Pacquiao and Pimentel, there are 4 other members of the PDP-Laban: Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, Senator Francis Tolentino, and Senator Ronald dela Rosa.

At the homecoming party organized by PDP-Laban members on August 8, Pacquiao said that he plans to hold monthly meetings to "strengthen their party."

At least 12 PDP-Laban congressmen moved to the second biggest bloc in Congress, National Unity Party, which partly takes credit for the election of Cayetano as House Speaker.

MEETING. PDP-Laban leaders held a meeting in Makati on August 14, 2019.

Photo from PDP-Laban

PDP-Laban was co-founded by Pimentel's father, former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. The younger Pimentel took the helm in 2010.

PDP-Laban went through a rough patch in 2018 when the camp of presidential friend Rogelio Garcia held party elections to "replace" Pimentel as president and then-speaker Pantaleon Alvarez as secretary-general.

Pimentel had dismissed the party election as unofficial. The Supreme Court backed him in July 2019, as it declared Pimentel's faction as the "rightful" PDP-Laban representative.

Pacquiao was the campaign manager of the party during the 2019 senatorial elections, where PDP-Laban fielded 5 candidates. Of the 5, only former Maguindanao 2nd district representative Zajid Mangudadatu lost.

Pacquiao recently hosted important party meetings in his Makati residence. Some lawmakers wondered why even some of the House speakership meetings were held in Pacquiao's home when he was only designated to announce the official party bet for speaker.

Prior to his membership with PDP-Laban, Pacquiao had joined 4 political parties, starting with then-president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi) from 2007 to 2009, followed by the Nacionalista Party from 2009 to 2010, and the then-ruling Liberal Party (LP) from 2010 to 2012.

He bolted LP to join then-vice president Jejomar Binay in PDP-Laban. He left PDP-Laban in 2016 to join Binay's United Nationalist Alliance, which was formed in 2015 in preparation for Binay's presidential bid.

Pacquiao was first sworn in as PDP-Laban member in 2012. He returned when President Rodrigo Duterte won in 2016. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.

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