MANILA— Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said Sen. Manny Pacquiao would likely be ousted as PDP-Laban president next month as the infighting within the ruling party worsened months before the filing of certificates of candidacy for the 2022 national elections.
“I will not be surprised if Sen. Pacquiao will wake up one day in July and he is no longer the acting president of PDP-Laban,” Drilon told online forum Kapihan sa Manila Bay.
“The signal is the President told Secretary [Alfonso] Cusi to go ahead and convene that committee meeting in Cebu last month,” he said.
Drilon was referring to a party assembly in Cebu in May, which Pacquiao told PDP-Laban members to ignore. Duterte, who sits as PDP-Laban chairperson, overruled Pacquiao’s call and told ruling party members to proceed with the meeting.
Earlier this week, Duterte said he would expose Pacquiao as a “liar” after the boxer-senator mentioned that corruption has worsened under the current administration.
Drilon said that it was common for ruling parties to be “split into two” months before the national elections, noting that a similar incident happened during the administration of former President Corazon Aquino.
“Party politics is very weak in the Philippines… we are personality-oriented,” he said.
Other political parties fielding a presidential candidate in the 2022 elections will have to do “a lot of work to take advantage” of the growing discord within PDP-Laban, said Drilon, who is vice chairperson of the opposition Liberal Party.
“The opposition needs to have one candidate only,” he said.
“Our concentration in the party today is to prepare for the eventuality that Leni Robredo runs for president. Kapag hindi siya tumakbo (If she does not run)… we are open to alliances, we are open to discussions,” he said.
Liberal Party president Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan earlier said the opposition party - which was decimated after Duterte rose to power in 2016 - has been trying to recruit more members before the upcoming elections.
So far, the LP is close to having 5,000 individuals on the ground, Pangilinan said, admitting that this is 70,000 people short of the party's target number of new members.
The LP has also established 160 chapters nationwide, he said. This is less than half of the party's target 400 chapters.
Franklin Drilon, Liberal Party, Manny Pacquiao, PDP-Laban, 2022 national elections, Halalan 2022, politics, elections, Rodrigo Duterte, Alfonso Cusi