MANILA — An official of the ruling PDP-Laban lashed out at President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday amid a widening rift in the administration party.
PDP-Laban vice president for Visayas Lutgardo Barbo said Duterte's "selfish, personal, twisted political interests" for the 2022 elections approaches are destroying the party's principles, leading to conflict between members.
Duterte, who is the party chair, earlier said the public should consider him as "a candidate for the vice presidency" in Halalan 2022 after his 6-year term as the country's president.
Barbo however said this goes against what PDP-Laban stands for.
"I was hoping that the President, in the twilight of his 6-year stint as President, would have been statesman-like and would have the opportunity to develop future leaders of PDP-Laban. Pero ang nangyayari, siya mismo ang nagiging problema (But what's happening is, he's becoming the problem). I can't understand the President," he said.
Barbo cited Duterte's ongoing feud with Senator Manny Pacquiao, which began after latter, who's the president of PDP-Laban, had asked the party's leaders members not to attend the party's council meeting in Cebu last May since it was not supposedly cleared with him.
The assembly voted on a resolution urging Duterte to run for vice president despite the senator's opposition.
It turned out that the President himself ordered Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, the PDP-Laban vice chair, to organize the meeting.
Barbo said one of Duterte's reasons to run for the vice presidency might be to avoid possible cases against him over his violent drug war in the Philippines.
Then International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda last month asked the court to authorize opening a full investigation into drug war killings in the country, saying crimes against humanity could have been committed.
"Duterte wants to untangle himself from ICC," Barbo said.
Barbo said the assembly was "scripted" by Duterte since Cusi could not have organized it "without the knowledge of the President." This violated the party's rules, which state that Pacquiao, as the party president, is the only one who could authorize such a meeting.
Duterte has been taking potshots lately at Pacquiao, who earlier also has criticized the President's actions, especially the latter's policy on the West Philippine Sea.
Pacquiao, who's seen as among the top possible candidates for the presidency in 2022, said he has the support of more than 10,000 party members following rumors he would be ousted from his post.
Sen. Koko Pimentel, executive vice-chairman and former president of PDP-Laban, earlier said a certain group is "actively re-organizing" the party from within, without proper authority.
Barbo blamed the growing problems in PDP-Laban on Duterte.
"The President has a lot to answer for this mess in PDP-Laban. I personally hold him responsible," he said.