Pacquiao warns Cusi: Do not divide PDP-Laban

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 12 2021 02:16 PM | Updated as of Mar 12 2021 05:35 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - PDP-Laban president Sen. Manny Pacquiao on Friday warned Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi not to "poison" and "divide" the minds of the ruling party's members amid talk of the group's lineup for the 2022 presidential elections despite the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

Cusi is allegedly among PDP-Laban members who have been going around the country to push Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go and President Rodrigo Duterte to run for president and vice president, respectively.

"Si Cusi naman, hindi ako nakikipagaway sa iyo [pero] hindi ako ang tao na puwede mo lang laru-laruin," Pacquiao said in a press conference.

(As for Cusi, I am not quarreling with you but I am not the person you can toy with.)

"Kung umiikot ka, pulitika pinaguusapan mo, 'wag mo lasunin ang mga utak ng mga miyembro ng partido para magkahiwa-hiwalay," he said.

(If you are going around the country, talking about politics, do not poison the minds of the party members and sow division.)

"Warning lang ito. Hindi ako nakikipagaway sa iyo. Gusto ko makipagkaibigan sa iyo," said the boxer-turned-lawmaker.

(This is just a warning. I am not quarreling with you. I want to befriend you.)

Pacquiao reminded the energy secretary not to walk back on his earlier statement that PDP-Laban should prioritize the COVID-19 pandemic over politics.

"Sabi mo 'wag muna pulitka, tulong muna sa tao... 'Yung salita mo, paninindigan mo. 'Wag mong kainin 'yung salita mo," Pacquiao said when asked to comment on Cusi, who sits as the party's vice chairman.

(You said the people should be the priority and not politics... You should stick to your word. Do not eat what you said.)

Earlier this week, several PDP-Laban members signed a resolution pushing for Duterte to run for Vice President in 2022, citing the need for the "continuity of the Government’s 10-point Socioeconomic Agenda."

On the same day, Duterte said his long-time ally Sen. Bong Go wants to become President. The latter said the president was just joking, but added he would only run if Duterte seeks the vice presidency.

Pacquiao said the resolution is not official.

"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.)

PDP-Laban members who would continuously defy the order to refrain from talking about the 2022 national elections at this time would be "dealt with," Pacquiao said.

"Karapatan ko na aksyunan ano man ang ginagawa ng lahat ng miyembro ng partido. Karapatan kong ituwid kung ano man ang mali," he said.

(It is my right to sanction the activities of party members. It is my right to correct any mistake.)

"Napakaaga pa. Ang pag-usapan natin tulong dahil maraming tao ang magugutom," he said.

(It is still too early. We should talk about helping others because a lot of people would go hungry.)

CUSI SAYS NOT BEHIND DUTERTE-FOR-VP CALL 

Cusi, meanwhile, belied allegations he was sowing division within the party, saying the matter of Duterte possibly running as vice president next year was brought up by participants of the party's consultative assemblies in Manila, Cebu and Davao.

"This is the collective sentiment of the leaders on the ground. It did not come from me," Cusi said in a statement released hours after Pacquiao's press conference.

"I am just one member and the decision should be a collective action of the whole. This should be the guiding principle too in the choice of our party officers," he said.

Pacquiao became PDP-Laban president in December 2020, while House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco was installed as acting executive vice president.

This is the second time PDP-Laban was embroiled in allegations of infighting months before an election.

In 2018, a group from Mindanao claiming to be party members held an event at the Quezon Memorial Circle criticizing then PDP-Laban Secretary General Pantaleon Alvarez.

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