MANILA (UPDATE) — PDP-Laban on Friday said it has expelled Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi and 2 other members from the ruling party for allegedly violating several provisions of the party's constitution.
Cusi, who is PDP-Laban Vice Chairman, Deputy Secretary General Melvin Matibag, and Membership Committee Head Astra Naik have been expelled from the ruling party after some 10,000 PDP-Laban members signed a manifesto against these officials, according to a statement from PDP-Laban Executive Director Ron Munsayac.
"Vice Chairman Cusi is already manipulating the party to support the Duterte-Duterte tandem which is a blatant admission of supporting Sara Duterte-Carpio for President, who is not a member of the Party," according to PDP-Laban Resolution No. 6 dated June 12, 2021.
The Davao City Mayor, the president's daughter, belongs to Hugpong ng Pagbabago. She earlier denied plans to run in tandem with her father, President Rodrigo Duterte, in the 2022 elections.
"He (Cusi) is guilty of having allegiance to a candidate and her political ideals and party. Such a candidate does not even believe in Federalism, her party fielded candidates against and opposed official candidates of PDP-Laban in 2019 Elections, and she is vehemently opposed to joining the PDP-Laban Party," it said.
Cusi and the 2 other officials' actions were in violation of the party's Constitution as Article VII, Section 6 of the charter "specifically prohibits members from maintaining any allegiance to another political party," the statement read.
"With their expulsion, all rights and privileges of Cusi, Matibag and Naik as members of the Party and all their positions or authorities in the Party are likewise immediately terminated," PDP-Laban's statement read.
The members "were likewise directed to cease and desist from following, supporting or giving legitimacy to any directive, resolution, notices, communications or actions" of the expelled party officials, it said.
The resolution against Cusi and 2 other members were signed by Pacquiao and the party's National Executive Committee (NEC), the highest administrative and executive body of the party.
PDP-LABAN TO PROBE DISLOYAL MEMBERS
The ruling party's NEC also passed PDP-Laban Resolution No. 4, which authorizes Pacquiao to "create committees that would investigate complaints about party members who may have violated party Constitution or may have committed acts inimical to party by showing allegiance to another party."
"There is a need for PDP-Laban to take appropriate actions by reason of the exigencies brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and the unauthorized and illegal acts committed by some of its officers and members with the insidious purpose of illegally wresting control over the Party," the resolution read.
It also claimed that several party members may be "violating the Party Constitution, violating the law, sowing confusion, fostering friction, creating divide within the Party and showing allegiance to another Party."
A third resolution, PDP-Laban Resolution No. 5, invalidated the May 31, 2021 meeting which Cusi organized in Cebu and which Pacquiao had objected to.
"Under the party’s charter, Cusi does not have the power to call for a National Council meeting because Article XVII Section 1 of the PDP-Laban Constitution provides 'that only the President of the party is authorized to sign documents in behalf of the National Council and the Party,'" the Party's statement read.
Cusi's expulsion from the ruling party comes after months of squabbling with Pacquiao.
The infighting within the Philippines' largest political party began earlier this year when the energy chief began asking PDP-Laban members to sign a manifesto urging President Rodrigo Duterte to run for vice president.
Pacquiao, who has been vocal about his plan to vie for the presidency in the 2022 national elections, opposed the move saying PDP-Laban officials should first focus on the COVID-19 pandemic.
The rift between the two PDP-Laban officials widened in May when Cusi called for a party meeting in Cebu despite warnings from the boxer-senator.
Pacquiao deemed the gathering as illegal as the event allegedly did not go through the proper approval process prescribed under PDP-Laban's bylaws. It was, however, Duterte, the party chair, who called for the meeting, said Cusi.
Cusi had also accused Pacquiao of "burning bridges" within PDP-Laban.
In a statement, Matibag said their removal from the party has no credence.
"I don’t wanna give credence to their actions. They don’t have any authority to discipline National Officers. It's just a way for them to hype their status in the media. We will just see them in the National Council and National Assembly. These two are the highest governing bodies of the PDP Laban," Matibag said.
The "ousted" secretary general added the faction of Pacquiao is "irrelevant" and would soon face their "reckoning" on their National Assembly on July 17.
"The committee of Senator Manny Pacquiao is irrelevant. July 17 National Assembly will be the day of their reckoning. We encourage them to challenge the actions of the National Assembly. Legally speaking, they don’t have any fighting chance," Matibag said.
Last week, Pacquiao said he would not leave the party even after Duterte slammed him and his performance as a senator in several public speeches.
"Hangga't ako po ang presidente gagampanan ko po 'yung trabaho ko," Pacquiao said in an online press conference before a flight to the US to prepare for his boxing match.
"Ayaw ko po na sasabihin nung members ng aking partido na wala akong ginagawa," he said in a presser that was held two hours later than originally set.
(For as long as I am president I will do my job. I don't like being told that I am doing nothing.)
Pacquiao said he wants to strengthen the political party system in the Philippines and prevent some PDP-Laban members from using the ruling party as a "stepping stone for other vested interests."
The boxer-turned-senator joined PDP-Laban in 2012 after years of being in the Liberal Party.