Pacquiao asserts leadership in PDP-Laban amid Isko's appeal to get party support

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 21 2022 10:54 PM | Updated as of Feb 24 2022 04:26 PM

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso welcomes Senator Manny Pacquiao at a flag ceremony at the Bonifacio Monument beside the Manila City Hall on July 29, 2019. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso welcomes Senator Manny Pacquiao at a flag ceremony at the Bonifacio Monument beside the Manila City Hall on July 29, 2019. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — Presidential aspirant Sen. Manny Pacquiao on Monday asserted his leadership in PDP-Laban in reaction to rival Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso's appeal for the party's endorsement.

Interviewed at the sidelines of his meeting with local leaders of Isabela, Pampanga and Ilocos Norte, Pacquiao said any PDP-Laban decision must first get his approval.

Pacquiao, recognized by one faction of PDP-Laban as their president in tandem with Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III as chairman, is seeking the country's highest post under the Progressive Movement for the Devolution of Initiative or PROMDI party. The other faction identifies Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi as party president and President Rodrigo Duterte as chairman. The Comelec has yet to resolve the issue.

"Ako naman ang Presidente ng PDP Laban. Kumbaga, ako ang Presidente ng PDP-Laban eh, sa akin din 'yan dadaan lahat 'yung mga ganyan. Yung sa PROMDI, nagkaroon ng alliance ang PDP at saka PROMDI. Pagdating ng panahon tatawagin yan na PDP-Promdi," Pacquiao said.

"Hintayin lang natin kung lumapit sa atin ang gustong sumuporta," he added.

The PDP-Laban has no presidential candidate in the May 9 elections.

On Saturday, Domagoso, the standard bearer of Aksyon Demokratiko, expressed hope that PDP-Laban party will endorse his candidacy after getting the support of the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte-National Executive Coordinating Committee.

“Sana kung wala namang presidente ang PDP-Laban, baka pwedeng ako na lang. Baka lang," he said.

(I hope the PDP-Laban can consider me as their presidential candidate since they don't have any. I am just hoping.)

Pacqiuao said though he is not offended by Domagoso's gesture.

He also shrugged off the endorsements his rivals are getting from different groups and personalities, saying the actual support of people is more important.

"Ako ine-endorso ako ng mga mahihirap na tao kasi ang laban na ito ay laban ng sambayanang Pilipino, lalong lalo na ang mga naghihirap na mga tao. Siguro naman mas marami kami yung mga naghihirap na tao sa buong bansa," he said.

Pacquiao ranked third in the January surveys of Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia on preferred presidential candidate in the May elections, tied with Domagoso. The top two posts in both polls were occupied by former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. and Vice President Leni Robredo, respectively.

WILLING TO RECONCILE

Meanwhile, Pacquiao said he is willing to "reconcile" with the faction of Cusi.

"Sa isang bahay kasi, 'pag nag-aaway, eh ano man ang mangyari, kapatid at kapatid pa kayo, magulang at magulang mo pa rin 'yan. 'Pag nag-away ba ang isang bahay, wala nang kapatid-kapatid, wala nang magulang-magulang?... Basta magkaisa tayo, walang masasamang gawain, kailangan tama ang gagawin natin," he said.

But such reconciliation can only happen if Cusi's group meets his conditions, he said.

In March last year, Cusi's group began collecting signatures from PDP-Laban members to urge Duterte to run for vice president this year. Duterte's term as president ends in June.

Subsequently, Pacquiao criticized Duterte over his position on the South China Sea issue and alleged corruption under the current administration, prompting a word war between the former allies.

Pimentel's stand on the feud between the two factions is different from Pacquiao's.

"Sabi ko nga sa partymates ko... we are already 40-years-old as a party. Hindi na tayo teenager. Alam na natin ang mali sa tama. Alam na natin kung sino ang tunay sa peke. Ayaw na rin naming makipagbalikan sa kilala na namin," said Pimentel, son of the late Sen. Nene Pimentel, one of the party's founders.

"Nakilala na namin sila. We are beyond reconciliation... Kilala na namin pagkatao nila eh. No investment in the party ... And then you hijack the party? Anong klaseng tao ka?" he added.

Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, a close ally of Duterte, initially filed his candidacy for President under PDP-Laban with the endorsement of the Cusi wing. But he quit later.