Speaker Velasco's name surfaces as Pacquiao's replacement for PDP-Laban president

Published May 30, 2021, 8:06 PM

by Ben Rosario

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco’s name surfaced as the next president of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino -Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) as a faction emerged and threatened to wrest the leadership of the Malacanang-backed political party from its current head, Senator Manny Pacquiao.

Velasco’s Lower House colleagues were expected to attend en masse, personally or via virtual procedure, the National Council Assembly in Cebu City scheduled Monday, May 31. They are reportedly set to “force the issue” of electing a permanent party president who will lead PDP-Laban in its preparations for the 2022 national elections, multiple congressional sources disclosed.

However, Secretary Raul Lambino, party vice president for external affairs, said election of officers is not in the agenda in today’s meeting that Pacquiao, PDP-Laban acting president, has declared as illegal.

“Wala sa specific agenda iyang ganyang usapan,” Lambino told Manila Bulletin but did not respond when asked if an election is possible.

He also denied that a coup has been hatched and will be carried out in Cebu City today, saying that leaders of the party, currently the largest and most influential in the country, will discuss issues on how to help the Duterte administration address the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lambino, however, noted that Pacquiao is just manning the top PDP-Laban post on a temporary basis and has not been elected the president.

The PDP-Laban vice president said the event today will be presided over by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, party vice chairman.

Lambino has issued an undated press statement decrying Pacquiao for questioning Cusi’s authority to call for a council assembly, pointing out that the Cabinet official’s action has been authorized by Duterte who has the sole power to convene such meeting.

“Senator Manny Pacquiao can’t stop the PDP-Laban National Council Assembly from happening on Monday in Cebu City because it was called by the Party Chairman, President Rodrigo Duterte, himself who has the sole authority to call the Assembly to a meeting,” said Lambino, presidential adviser on Northern Luzon He also chided Pacquiao for insisting that politics will be the main agenda of the meeting.

“PDP-Laban is the ruling party of the Philippines. therefore, it is but proper that the party supports the president’s COVID-response as well as hold consultations with party members on how to support the President’s agenda as he enters his last year in office,” Lambino , administrator of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, explained.

Velasco’s election as PDP-Laban president will further fuel speculations that Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, daughter of President Duterte, will seek to replace her father in 2022.

It will be recalled that Velasco volunteered to help the mayor as she barnstormed the country to campaign for the senatorial candidates of her political party, Hugpong ng Pagbabago, during the 2019 mid-term elections.

Mayor Duterte will celebrate her birthday on Monday, May 31.