Comelec rejects Pimentel, Pacquiao appeal, affirms Cusi wing heads PDP-Laban

Bea Cupin

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Comelec rejects Pimentel, Pacquiao appeal, affirms Cusi wing heads PDP-Laban

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte attends the campaign rally of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban) at the BECES Grounds in Buenavista, Agusan del Norte on April 12, 2022. Malacañang photo

Malacañang photo

(1st UPDATE) Senator Koko Pimentel says they will elevate the case to the Supreme Court

MANILA, Philippines – Nearly 10 months after the conclusion of the 2022 presidential polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) denied an appeal from Senator Aquilino Pimentel and then presidential candidate Manny Pacquiao for the body to reconsider its decision on who truly leads the once-ruling PDP-Laban. 

The commission en banc announced on Friday, January 27, that it denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Pimentel and Pacquiao over the leadership squabble in the party. 

On May 6, or three days before Election Day in 2022, the Comelec’s Special Second Division voted 2-1 in favor of the PDP-Laban faction headed by former Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi with Melvin Matibag as secretary-general. The Cusi wing is the one that then-President Rodrigo Duterte chaired. 

The Comelec ruling meant that the Cusi-led wing represented the PDP-Laban leadership and not the one headed by Pimentel and Pacquiao. Pimentel is the son of PDP-Laban co-founder Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. 

The commission en banc decided it was correct in recognizing the Cusi and Matibag faction’s case and referring it to the Special Second Division. The said division then recognized meetings and elections held by the Cusi-led wing. 

Yet even as the Cusi-wing won the challenge before Comelec, it was the majority-party only in name, at least in the national race. PDP-Laban, despite having the incumbent president then as one of its leaders, was without a standard-bearer for the 2022 presidential polls. 

Instead, it adopted as its vice presidential candidate Duterte’s daughter Sara Duterte and later, her coalition partner Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as presidential candidate. Sara Duterte was a Lakas-CMD candidate while Marcos ran under the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas. Marcos and Duterte both secured big wins in the 2022 elections. 

Pacquiao also ran as president but under the obscure PROMDI party because of the mess over PDP-Laban’s leadership. 

But what the May 6 Comelec decision meant that since it was still the dominant political party, PDP-Laban had priority access to election returns and polling places – a crucial advantage for candidates in local races.

In a statement released by Matibag, PDP-Laban said it was “elated” by the Comelec ruling. “The ‘D’ in PDP-Laban stands for ‘DEMOKRATIKO’ – it is the core principle in which the party was built. The PDP- Laban is about representative democracy,” said Matibag, saying it was its members who were incumbent elected officials who chose in July 2021, Duterte and Cusi as leaders of the party.

Pimentel said they will elevate the case to the Supreme Court.

“We will appeal to the Supreme Court. The Comelec should refrain from using the phrase ‘vox populi, vox Dei’ in their press statements because that is just the statement of the Comelec not the voice of the people. Our Comelec people might slowly get some kind of messianic complex if they start believing that what they say is the voice of God,” he said in a statement on Friday.

PDP-Laban was founded by the elder Pimentel in the 1980s as a challenge to the incumbent President’s father and namesake, the dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos. 

It was part of the ruling political coalition under the presidency of the late Cory Aquino, who took over after the ouster of the tyrant Marcos. In an ironic twist, PDP-Laban leader and then president Duterte would grant a hero’s burial for the deposed dictator. – Rappler.com 

1 comment

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  1. ET

    It is indeed an IRONIC twist, the Party which challenged Marcos Sr. is the same Party which brought Marcos Jr. to power.

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.