Comelec denies MR filed by Pimentel, Pacquiao on ruling recognizing Cusi faction as official PDP-Laban members

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc denied on Friday, Jan. 27 the Motion for Reconsideration (MR) Ex Abundanti Ad Cautelam filed by former Senator Manny Pacquiao and Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III on the Resolution of the Commission Special Second Division.

MB file photo

In a statement provided by Comelec spokesperson Atty. John Rex Laudiangco, the resolution denied the MR dated May 11, 2022, and affirmed the assailed resolution of the Comelec Special Second Division dated May 6, 2022, which granted the Petition with Prayer for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and Writ of Preliminary Injunction (WPI) filed by Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-LABAN) represented by petitioners Alfonso Cusi and Melvin Matibag.

It can be recalled that the Assailed Resolution declared as the true and official members of the PDP-LABAN Party the faction led by its Chairman Rodrigo Roa Duterte, as it recognized the validity of the May 31, 2021 and July 16, 2021 National Council Meetings and July 17, 2021 National Assembly, including its predicate resolutions and prior and subsequent acts.

According to the resolution promulgated Jan. 27, 2023, the MR filed by respondents Pacquiao and Pimentel sought the reversal of the Assailed Resolution and denial of the petition based on the following grounds:

  • the Honorable COMELEC En Banc does not have the primary jurisdiction over the instant Petition and could only have dismissed the Petition, not refer it to the Comelec Division
  • Petitioners do not have the standing, whether in their personal capacity or on behalf of respondent PDP-Laban to file the instant Peititon
  • The Void National Council Meeting, did not comply with the requirements of the PDP-Laban Constitution

On the issue of jurisdiction, the en banc resolution stated that the Comelec en banc was correct when it took cognizance of the petition filed by PDP-LABAN represented by Cusi and Matibag, and referred the same to the Comelec Special Second Division.

The core issue of the case relates to the Sworn Information and Update Statements (SIUS) and the Petition to cancel the same SIUS, among others. Thus, the matter is one which is administrative in nature and properly pertains to the jurisdiction of the en banc pursuant to Section 2(5), Article IX-C of the Constitution.

The en banc Resolution added that, "the 1987 Constitution, Comelec Rules of Procedure or jurisprudence do not provide for the dismissal of an intra-party leadership dispute if the case was initially taken cognizance by the Commission (en banc) and later referred to a Division of the Commission for resolution."

On the issue of legal standing, the en banc ruled that Petitioners have standing to file the petition. Being members of the political party, they have personal and substantial interest in the case which involves intra-party controversy, particularly "issues on party leadership and legitimacy of acts of party members."

As to the rest of the arguments in the MR, Laudiangco said that the en banc did not find novel issues to be tackled and found no cogent reason to disturb the decision of the Comelec Special Second Division.