'Newly-elected' PDP-Laban official decries as 'illegal' planned September meet by Pacquiao's faction

Published July 19, 2021, 11:25 AM

by Hannah Torregoza 

The planned September assembly of the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) organized by the camp of Senator Manny Pacquiao would be illegal, recently-elected party secretary general Melvin Matibag said on Monday, July 19.

“That’s going to be illegal. It will be illegal because it is clear in our constitution that a national council meeting can only be called upon the order of the party chairman in coordination with the party president,” said Matibag in Filipino in an interview on GMA-7’s Unang Hirit.

“For now, if we are going to have a national council meeting, it should be called by President Duterte in coordination with Secretary Alfonso Cusi,” said Matibag, whose election to his current party post has not been recognized by the PDP-Laban faction headed by Pacquiao.

Sought for comment, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III hit Matibag’s claim as he questioned why Cusi’s faction is demanding Pacquiao to acknowledge his leadership when they refused to recognize Pacquiao as party president which is stipulated under the party’s constitution.

Matibag also dismissed Pacquiao’s camp’s allegations they were “delinquents” saying the basis of the attendance and votes garnered during the July 16 and 17 meetings were based on the sworn information update submitted by the party to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Matibag said the document was signed by Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who is the party’s executive vice chairman.

“Why is that? The basis of the attendance and votes last July 16 and 17 was the sworn information update status that was submitted before the Comelec. It was signed by Senator Koko Pimentel,” he stressed.

Duterte is the party’s chairman, while Pacquiao is the erstwhile president of PDP-Laban. He was ousted last Saturday as party president by Cusi, who was sworn in by the President himself.

Before this, Pacquiao, who is in the United States to prepare for his boxing fight against Errol Spence, criticized the said assembly and refused to recognize its validity.

The boxer-senator also questioned why the July 16, 17 meetings were prioritized amid the spread of the Delta variant.

Pimentel reacted to Matibag’s statements during the TV interview.

“He’s now saying that he (Pacquiao) should now coordinate with Cusi, their president? Then why didn’t they coordinate with Pacquiao from the start? Pacquiao is the president but they did not recognize him. They made a shortcut,” Pimentel pointed out in a separate interview.

Pimentel also dismissed Matibag’s explanation on the document saying it is just a list of members that are still subject for assessment.

According to Pimentel, party members still need to undergo basic membership seminars and they still need to comply with other requirements.

“It’s not automatic that if you are listed as member, you may already vote..If you do not comply, you are a delinquent member,” Pimentel said.

Matibag, however, said they are willing to discuss the matter with Pacquiao’s camp once he returns to the country from his fight. He also said Pacquiao and Pimentel are still members of PDP-Laban.

“When he returns and he wants to talk to the leadership of the PDP-Laban, we are open to discuss matters with him,” he said.