MANILA - PDP-Laban president Sen. Manny Pacquiao on Friday said a supposed party resolution urging President Rodrigo Duterte to run as vice president in the 2022 national elections is illegitimate.
PDP-Laban has yet to finalize its line-up for the 2022 national elections, Pacquiao said in a press conference.
"Hindi legitimate 'yung resolution na ginawa. Nalaman ko lang 'yun dahil sinabi sa'kin ng tao ko," he said.
(The resolution is illegitimate. I only knew about it because one of my staff told me.)
"Hindi ko alam 'yun. Hindi 'yun sanctioned as acting president ng partido," he said.
(I did not know about it. It was not sanctioned [by me] as acting party president.)
The said resolution, dated March 8, was signed mostly by mayors and lawmakers, Melvin Matibag, PDP-Laban deputy party secretary general, earlier told ABS-CBN News.
Among the signatories were MMDA chairman Benhur Abalos, Mandaluyong Mayor Carmelita Abalos, Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas, and Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivares.
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said differences among party members on whether or not Duterte should run as vice president should not be considered as infighting.
"'Wag ninyo i-characterize as infighting," Pimentel said.
(Do not characterize it as infighting.)
"Sen. Manny Pacquiao is reminding the members to focus sa pagtulong. Darating 'yung time para sa pulitika. Hintayin natin 'yung time para sa pulitika," he said.
(Sen. Manny Pacquiao is reminding the members to focus on helping. The time for politics will come. Let's wait for that time to come.)
Pacquiao on Friday issued a "warning" against Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, the party vice-chair, who he said was sowing division within the group.
The senator made the statement as he asked members to refrain from talking about the upcoming elections as the country continued to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cusi was allegedly among PDP-Laban members behind the resolution urging Duterte to run for vice president.
On the same day the resolution was released, Duterte himself talked politics, saying his long-time ally Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go was aspiring to become president. Go denied this in a statement but said he might change his mind if the current chief executive would agree to run for vice president.
Pacquiao belied allegations that several party members were planning to break away from the ruling party, saying more politicians want to join PDP-Laban.
"Marami pang gusto mag oath, sumama sa partido. Sabi ko 'wag muna dahil pandemic pa, bawal pa," he said.
(Many want to take their oath, join the party. I said not yet because the pandemic is still going.)
When asked about conflicting statements being released by several PDP-Laban members, Pacquiao said: "Inaayos na natin 'yung mga lumalabas na isyu."
(We are already fixing the issues.)
"Aaksyunan namin 'yang mga ganiyan na hindi sumusunod sa partido," said Pacquiao, who boxing promoter Bob Arum last year said might also seek the presidency.
(We will act on those who refuse to toe the party line.)
Instead of disclosing specific sanctions against erring members, Pacquiao released a memo calling for unity within the party and directing all PDP-Laban members to avoid discussing politics at this time as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
"I have the responsibility to enforce rules, promote cooperation, insist on civility and respect, and most of all, to remind you that we are one team," his memo read.
"Before we can truly solve the problems of the country, we must first focus on ourselves and our beloved party."
This is not the first time PDP-Laban seemed divided months before an election.
In 2018, a group from Mindanao claiming to be party members on Wednesday held an event at the Quezon Memorial Circle criticizing then PDP-Laban Secretary General Pantaleon Alvarez.
The group, led by PDP-Laban national council chair Rogelio Garcia, slammed Alvarez for leading the mass-oath taking of new party members without complying with the application process.
Old party members were not invited to PDP-Laban's 36th anniversary celebration at a hotel in Makati City, Garcia added.
The group issued a resolution declaring Alvarez persona non grata from the party, but then-party president Pimentel denied that PDP-Laban had made such a declaration.
In 2019, Alvarez accused the ruling party of keeping him in the dark about its decision to back Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco's bid for the House Speakership, which he was also vying for.
Alvarez was hoping to make a comeback as Speaker after he was ousted from the post in 2018 in a coup maneuvered by the President's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte. Then Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was installed in his place.