MANILA - Sen. Manny Pacquiao is only acting president of PDP-Laban and was not duly elected, but his membership is a "plus factor", a party official said Tuesday,
Raul Lambino, PDP-Laban Vice President for External Affairs, said Pacquiao took on the role of president after Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III stepped down last year but he was not elected by the party's national assembly.
"He was never elected as party president in a national assembly because there hasn’t been a national assembly yet," Lambino told ANC's Headstart.
"We have to follow the constitution and bylaws of PDP-Laban. It’s not stated that the executive vice president should be the president. It’s only stated that he shall take over the function of the president. It doesn’t mean that he will be the president in case there is a vacancy of the presidency of the party," he said.
The party is set to hold an assembly next month, he said. Electing their officers is "long overdue" and is slated to be done this time, he said.
Lambino said it is "speculative" to say that Pacquiao would be eased out in the upcoming national council meeting ahead of the assembly. He also said he has "no personal information" if House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco is indeed gaining support to replace Pacquiao.
However, he said the boxer-turned-legislator is "most welcome in the party."
"If he’s going to be chosen as the president of the party in the national assembly, we are going to welcome him. I, for one, am going to support Sen. Manny Pacquiao if ever he is elected president of the party," said Lambino.
He added, "it will be a plus factor if Sen. Pacquiao will stay and remain with the party."
PDP-Laban's meeting on Monday was the subject of disagreement between Pacquiao and PDP-Laban vice chairman, Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi.
In May, Pacquiao had urged PDP-Laban to snub Cusi's call for a meeting. But it was revealed on Sunday that it was President Rodrigo Duterte, the party's chairman, who instructed Cusi to lead the meeting.
Lambino said he "cannot understand" why Pacquiao's group opposed the national meeting when its main purpose is to ask party leaders to unite and stand with Duterte.
One of the matters discussed in the meeting was a resolution that urges Duterte to run for vice president in next year's election.
Lambino maintained that there is nothing illegal or unconstitutional with the move.
"I don’t see any constitutional or legal violation for a president running for another position...The prohibition is for President Duterte to run for President again in 2022, that is unconstitutional," he told ANC's Headstart.
"What we are driving at in PDP-Laban is that when we have our consultations with our party members all over the country, we have been receiving a lot of petitions, manifesto of support urging the continuity of a Duterte administration because they have seen how the President has performed in the last 5 years and they would want a continuity of this kind of government, this kind of administration," he said.
Lambino added, there has been precedent in having a former president run and win a political seat after a term as chief executive. He cited former Presidents Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who became Manila City Mayor and Pampanga District Representative respectively.