'Remain united,' Duterte tells PDP-Laban as rift simmers

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 31 2021 06:11 PM

'Remain united,' Duterte tells PDP-Laban as rift simmers 1
President Rodrigo Duterte during a phone call at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on May 19, 2021. Robinson Niñal, Presidential Photo/File

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday urged members of his political party, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan’s (PDP-Laban), to "stand together and remain united," after speculations of a rift brewing among his allies. 

The party's president Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao last week ordered PDP-Laban members to ignore Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi's call for an assembly. 

But Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque on Sunday revealed it was Duterte, PDP-Laban chairman, who instructed Cusi, the party's vice president, to lead the meeting. 

"As we continue to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, may we continue to work together in pursuing our initiatives that will strengthen our gains in good governance, especially those that will foster lasting peace and progress for our nation," Duterte said in a taped message during the meeting in Cebu City. 

"Again I call on my party-mates to stand together and remain united, not by personal interest, but by our principles and values as we chart the future of our party and the rest of the nation," he added. 

Duterte skipped the meeting because his schedule was full, said Roque. The President will meet on Monday with the task force leading the country's COVID-19 response, and announce quarantine levels for June. 

Pacquiao earlier this May criticized Duterte's stance on China's incursions in the West Philippine Sea as "lacking." 

In March, The boxing icon-turned-senator chided PDP-Laban members who urged Duterte to run as vice president in the 2022 elections, following suggestions that his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio should gun for the presidency. 

Duterte-Carpio topped a recent survey on most preferred presidential candidates, while Pacquiao trailed at fourth place. 

 The Duterte patriarch, 76, is not eligible for re-elections. 

He has repeatedly denied that his daughter would run in the 2022 presidential race. However, he "leaves to God" whether or not he would run for vice president, at least two of his aides said last week. 

"If the President thinks it is God's will, he will make the proper announcement in due course," Roque said in a press briefing.