President spokesman Harry Roque took a swipe at the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) faction on reports that President Duterte might get expelled if he attends the July 17 assembly organized by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.
The Palace official said he doesn’t understand where PDP-Laban is coming from considering that before the Chief Executive joined the now ruling party, it only had a handful of members.
“Uulitin ko po, isang jeepney lang po ang PDP-Laban bago sumali diyan si Presidente Duterte. Kung aalisin n’yo po si Presidente sa PDP-Laban, balik kayo sa isang jeepney (I will say it again, PDP-Laban is composed only of jeepney before President Duterte joined it. If you will expel the President, you will be back to one jeepney),” Roque added.
Many politicians jumped ship to the ruling PDP-Laban following Duterte’s victory as president.
On Tuesday, July 13, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, whose family was one of the founders of the party, called on his partymates to ignore the July 17 assembly organized by Cusi.
The energy chief was recently kicked out from the party for allegedly violating rules over their alleged support of presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio’s bid for the presidency.
But Duterte will attend the assembly, recognizing the leadership of Cusi, who was the party’s vice chair. Duterte is the party’s chairman.
“If PDP-Laban really wants to ignore the President, so be it. Kung nais nilang umalis ang Presidente diyan, nasa kanila ang desisyon (If they want the President to leave, the decision is theirs). So we will see what will happen,” Roque said.
But the spokesman stressed that nothing will stop the Chief Executive from running as vice president if he so decides.
“Pag nagdesisyon ang presidente tumakbo ng bise presidente kahit anong partido pa, kahit walang partido, tatakbo po ‘yan (When the president decides to run as vice president, under whatever party, even if there’s no party, he will run),” he added.
However, Roque also recognized that the party is a democratic organization where members have a say.
“Tingnan na lang po natin kung ano maging desisyon ng karamihan ng PDP-Laban (Let’s just see what will be the decision of the majority of the members),” he said.
Factions within PDP-Laban started when Senator Manny Pacquiao, who is the party’s president, and Cusi had a falling out because the latter supposedly supports the candidacy of the President as vice president and wants either Duterte-Carpio or Senator Christopher “Bong” Go to be the party’s standard-bearer.
Pacquiao is also eyeing the country’s top post, and he has the support of the party’s founding members.