MANILA (UPDATE) — Sen. Manny Pacquiao still enjoys the support of majority of PDP-Laban even after 107 key members snubbed the boxing champ's call not to attend a party assembly in Cebu, an official of the Philippines' largest political party said Tuesday.
Pacquiao, the party president, has been in "constant communication with our partymates all over the country," PDP-Laban Executive Director Ron Munsayac said in an online press conference.
"Matibay, matatag at malakas ang leadership ni Sen. Pacquiao," he said.
(Sen. Pacquiao's leadership is sturdy, steadfast and strong.)
"Napakalakas pa po ng suporta ng aming general membership kay Sen. Pacquaiao as party president," he said.
(The support of our general membership for Sen. Pacquiao as party president remains very strong.)
He said there is no plot to remove Pacquiao as party president.
"Hindi namin tingin papatalsikin si Sen. Manny. Confident kami. We've been consulting our partymates," he said.
(We don't think Sen. Manny will be ousted. We are confident.)
"We are optimistic, we are positive na maplaplansta natin ito (that we can iron this out)," he said.
PDP-Laban has at least 100,000 members nationwide, and only 107 attended the meeting in Cebu, Munsayac said.
"Marami sa mga nag-attend kahapon ay tumawag sa kaniya at nagsabi na may memo kasi si President Rodrigo Duterte kaya rerespetuhin namin," he said.
(A lot of those who attended yesterday called him to say that they had to attend in respect to the memo of President Duterte.)
Munsayac added Pacquiao is not known to be planning to leave the party because of recent irritants.
"Base sa pag-uusap namin ni Sen. Pacquiao, wala po yan," PDP-Laban executive director Ron Munsayac said in an online press conference.
(Based on my conversation with Sen. Pacquiao, he has no plans of leaving the party.)
"Napakalayo po sa isip niya na umalis sa PDP-Laban," he said when asked if Pacquiao should just put up his own political party since several members have been implicitly "insulting" his directives as party president.
(Leaving PDP-Laban is far from his mind.)
Munsayac downplayed reports that the meeting in Cebu was convened as a prelude to elect a new set of party officers.
Under the PDP-Laban's charter, a council meeting must be convened before the party can hold a national assembly where its officials are elected.
"May mga naririnig kaming ganiyan, but we want to be fair to [Energy] Sec. [Alfonso] Cusi at sa ibang kapartido natin na hindi naman ganun 'yung objective nila," he said.
(We have been hearing that but we want to be fair to Energy Secretary Cusi and other partymates that that was not their objective.)
"Mahirap po kung maniniwala kami sa ibang info na ganiyan (It's hard if we just believe such info)... We'd like to reach out first, we'd like to talk first before sanctioning our members," he said.
In a party meeting Monday organized by Cusi, the PDP-Laban vice chair, the party council voted to pass a resolution urging Duterte to run for vice president in next year's national elections.
It was Duterte who asked Cusi to set the meeting.
Pacquiao's camp, which has been insisting that the meeting is invalid as only the party chairman and party president can convene one, is trying to schedule a meeting with Duterte to clarify the issue, Munsayac said.
Malacañang earlier said Duterte and Pacquiao remain allies despite supposed infighting within the ruling party.
Munsayac confirmed reports that Pacquiao is set to talk to Sen. Panfilo Lacson for a possible partnership in the 2022 elections but said he was not privy if Cusi's group was trying to recruit Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio to be her father's runningmate in the upcoming polls.
Pacquiao has been vocal about his plans to run for president next year, but Duterte said his former close aide, Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go, also wants to succeed him in Malacañang.
Almost annually, PDP-Laban has figured in a power struggle.
In 2019, the Supreme Court upheld the Commission on Elections' recognition of Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III’s group as the legitimate officers of PDP-Laban after a faction claimed to be the ruling party's rightful representatives.
In 2020, long-time member and former PDP-Laban secretary general Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez left the party after the ruling bloc backed Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco's bid for House speaker.