Matibag says Pacquiao faction bribed 'grassroot' PDP-Laban men; accusation decried as 'insult' to ordinary members

Published July 19, 2021, 4:04 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

An official of the Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) has accused Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao of paying individuals to supposedly act as grassroots members and support their continued leadership of the ruling political party.

Senator Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Pacquiao and Sen. Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III (Albert Calvelo/Senate PRIB)

“We have received reports on the ground that ‘yong grupo ni (the group of) Sen. Pimentel and Sen. Pacquiao is sending money so they that they will organize ‘yong mga grassroots na sinasabi, para lumabas na may tao (the grassroots to make it appear that are people supporting them),” claimed Melvin Matibag, who was elected secretary general during a PDP-Laban assembly that Pacquiao and Pimentel assailed as “unauthorized.”

Matibag said he has received reports of the alleged payouts from as far as Mindanao, including Basilan, that “old timers” were also irked.

“Tumawag sa akin mismo ‘yong iba na, ayaw ko na lang hong banggitin kung sino yong nagpadala mismo ng pera para mag-organize at sabayan po ‘yong event ng July 17 (Others called me directly but I just don’t want to mention who was sending the money to organize a meeting and compete with the event last July 17),” he said.

Earlier, Pimentel and Pacquiao’s camp said “original” PDP-Laban members had denounced as “illegal” the July 17 assembly led by President Duterte and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, as well as their election of a new set of officers.

Pacquiao was replaced by Cusi as the party’s new president.

“This is a political party, and who are the leaders of the political party? The leaders of the political party [are] the politicians…Represented po sila roon (They were represented), that’s why they were invited…and the President attended doon po sa (the event in) Clark,” Matibag said.

“‘Yong mga nainterview, wala pong ganon na grupo, wala pong puwang sa constitution namin ‘yan (Those interviewed, such group does not exist, they have no place in our constitution),” he added.

‘Not the well-funded faction’

But Pimentel quickly dismissed Matibag’s claims.

“I seriously don’t think that we are the faction which is ‘well-funded’,” Pimentel told the Manila Bulletin in a message when asked for response.

PDP-Laban executive director Ron Munsayac also echoed this, reminding Matibag that the party is still mostly composed of ordinary people, and not politicians and government appointees.

“‘Wag naman sana nila insultuhin mga miyembro ng PDP-Laban lalo na mga nasa baba. Purkit ba sila ang nakaupo at makapangyarihan, minamata na lang kami na kaya bayaran (They should not insult the members of the PDP-Laban, especially those from the ground. Just because they are the ones in power, they will belittle us that we are only paid),” Munsayac said in a separate statement.

“To be honest, walang masyadong pera ang partido (The party does not have enough money). We only get our funds from membership fees. Sino ba ang mga nakaupo ngayon? Hindi ba sila? Magkano ginastos nila sa two-day event nila? (Who, anyway, are in power? It’s them, isn’t it? How much did they spend for that two-day event?”

“Paano naman namin mababayaran mga libo-libong miyembro [na] nagtipon-tipon para suportahan ang aming party president (How would we be able to pay the thousands of members to gather in support for our party president)?” he continued.

Munsayac categorically denied Matibag’s accusation, saying: “Wala sa prinsipyo namin ‘yan ganyan (It’s not in out principles).”

The Manila Bulletin has also reached out to Pacquiao’s camp for comment but was told to defer to Munsayac’s statements.