Senator Francis Tolentino on Tuesday, July 20, appealed to his partymates in the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) to “simmer down” and make peace with each other.
“The proper attitude should be to simmer down, all those talking should stop. There should be a ceasefire on this and let the process evolve,” Tolentino said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.
The administration senator refused to admit that the ruling political party is divided, even as the camps of the Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi have been exchanging tirades in the last few weeks.
On Monday, July 19, PDP-Laban secretary-general Melvin Matibag even accused Pacquiao and Pimentel of bribing grassroots members to supposedly support their continued leadership of the party — a claim denied by the latter’s camp.
While saying is neither part of Pacquiao’s group nor Cusi’s, Tolentino attended and voted during the July 17 national assembly in Clark, Pampanga.
During the assembly, Pacquiao was ousted as president of the PDP-Laban and Cusi was elected as his replacement. But the boxing senator’s wing refused to recognize it, maintaining that Saturday’s event was “illegal”.
“The approach would be for the new leadership to reach out to Senators Paqcuiao and [Aquilino ‘Koko’] Pimentel,” Tolentino said.
“They’re stll members, they are not expelled…So as I have said before, there is no Pacquiao wing or Cusi wing, because for me, PDP-Laban is like a bird, and a bird is like a plane, [it] cannot fly with just a single wing. Both wings should be attached together in one body or leadership,” he said.
But should the dispute be brought to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) or even the Supreme Court, Tolentino expressed his support for Cusi, as well as other newly-elected officers of the party.
“If you follow the Constitution and by laws of the PDP-Laban, I think the recently-elected officers would have their legitimacy affirmed,” he said.
“The procedure was followed, the members of the national council were there to validate, to confirm the existence of a quorum and the procedure needed by the by-laws, so I don’t see any reason in so far as the legitimacy is concerned, can be overturned,” he explained further.
Tolentino hoped there would be “one PDP-Laban” before the 2022 elections.