political parties

With Pacquiao as party president, PDP-Laban says ‘too early to talk about 2022 elections’

JC Gotinga
With Pacquiao as party president, PDP-Laban says ‘too early to talk about 2022 elections’

handout photo from PDP-Laban

The ruling party eyes expanded membership and more ‘grassroots activities’ under the leadership of the boxer-turned-politician

Is Senator Manny Pacquiao’s takeover as president of the ruling party, PDP-Laban, a prelude to a presidential run in the 2022 elections?

“It’s still too early to talk about the presidential elections,” said PDP-Laban executive director Ron Munsayac in a statement relayed to reporters by Pacquiao’s office on Thursday, December 3.

Pacquiao was sworn in as the party’s national president Wednesday night, December 2, along with House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco as executive vice president.

“What we can expect under a Manny Pacquiao-led PDP-Laban is more activities and avenues to help our kababayans (countrymen) in the grassroots level,” Munsayac said.

“Senator Pacquiao will bring not only more energy to the party in the sense of expanding its membership, but also more discipline to the current members in the sense of inculcating in them the concept of principles-based politics, which includes their party membership,” he added.

Pacquiao will also “start educating the party and the public about his advocacy on ‘peace and economics,” said Munsayac, who noted the boxer-turned-politician’s rags-to-riches story.

“We are composed mostly of grassroots community leaders so the party will provide a nationwide organization and avenues to directly reach and benefit the poorest of the poor, the voiceless, and the defenseless of our nation that Senator Manny Pacquiao was once a part and now a champion of,” Munsayac added.

Pacquiao himself said as much when he addressed the party during its assembly on Wednesday night at the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar events place in Quezon City.

“We are not beholden to big businesses, foreign entities, nor vested interests, but only to the Filipino people. We are here to fight for the poor, the jobless, the homeless, the voiceless and the hopeless. This is what the PDP-Laban under Manny Pacquiao will stand for,” Pacquiao said.

Pacquiao’s senatorial term will end in 2022. He will be eligible to run for another term in the Senate, or else for some other position.

Pimentel to ‘work in the background’

PDP-Laban currently counts 5 senators, 58 congressmen, 43 governors, 22 vice governors,  257 board members, 608 Mayors, 541 vice mayors, 4,081 councilors and 100,000 grassroots community leaders as its members, the party said.

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, PDP-Laban’s previous president, will be “working in the background,” the party said.

“I have asked that I be allowed to concentrate on deepening our understanding of our ideology…and deepening our ties with our existing international allies,” Pimentel said in a message to reporters.

Pimentel’s father, the late Senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Sr, founded PDP-Laban. He was a staunch defender of democracy who faced persecution during the regime of dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The younger Pimentel will now focus on pushing President Rodrigo Duterte’s legislative agenda, the party said in a statement.

Pimentel said he is confident that “through Pacquiao, PDP-Laban will continue to be the dominant party even after 2022,” the party statement went on to say.

Talk of Pacquiao running for the country’s top post have been rife since before 2016, when he ran for senator. He has yet to disclose his political plans for 2022.

On several occasions, Duterte publicly urged Pacquiao to run for president.

“Sabi ko sa kanya one time…kami lang dalawa nag-usap, ‘Gusto kita gawing presidente,‘” Duterte said in December 2017, as quoted in an Inquirer article. (I told him, while it was just the two of us, “I want to make you president.”)

Pacquiao’s former promoter, Bob Arum, said in April 2015 that the boxer plans to run for president “in 2022, or maybe later.”

“Again, it’s still too early to talk about politics and the 2022 elections. We have a pandemic to deal with, and kababayans (countrymen) affected by consecutive calamities to help,” Munsayac said. – Rappler.com