MANILA - The mass oath-taking of "illegitimate" members coupled with the alleged rebuff of older stalwarts spurred a power struggle threatening to divide President Rodrigo Duterte's political party, an official of one of the factions of the PDP-Laban said Sunday.
Members of a faction of PDP-Laban convened on Friday to call for the removal of party president, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel, and secretary-general, Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.
The faction elected PDP-Laban national council chair Rogelio Garcia to replace Pimentel, and Willy Talag, PDP-Laban's membership committee chair for Metro Manila, to succeed Alvarez.
The group had opposed Pimentel and Alvarez's move to swear in some 300,000 PDP-Laban members across the country in recent months, without going through seminars on the party's goals, said Garcia.
"The traditional political parties, iyun po ang ginagawa; sumali ka sa party, maski hindi mo naiintidihan kung ano iyung layunin ng partido... That is why PDP-Laban was established; to discipline and correct the mistakes of the past," he told radio DZMM.
(That's what traditional political parties do, you are allowed to join even if you don't understand the party's goal.)
Some older PDP-Laban members, he said, were also aggrieved over being "left out" from some party events, including the celebration of its founding anniversary last February.
Garcia said he has been a PDP-Laban member since 1982. Duterte, the party's national chairman, appointed him as director of the Development Bank of the Philippines last year, he said.
COLD-SHOULDERED BY PIMENTEL?
Garcia said he had tried to air the concerns his faction, but Pimentel allegedly snubbed his requests for a meeting repeatedly.
He said he informed Pimentel's father, PDP-Laban founder and former Senate President Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr., of the conflict and the faction's plan to hold a national convention to elect new leaders.
The elder Pimentel, he said, told them that they may choose new members as long as they follow PDP-Laban's bylaws.
The elder Pimental also advised them that new additions to PDP-Laban should be deemed as "friends and allies", instead of legitimate members, said Garcia.
Garcia also denied the younger Pimentel's claim that the faction's gathering was unofficial as it was supposedly convened by a member "who was expelled from the party."
"Hinahamon ko sila (I dare them), can you show to us that letter of expulsion?" Garcia said.
He also claimed that the younger Pimentel was never officially "elected" as PDP-Laban president because he only assumed the post when former Vice President Jejomar Binay quit the party in 2007.
Senator Pimentel, he said, had never called for a national assembly to confirm his party presidency.
Garcia's faction, he said, nonetheless welcomes Duterte's call for a caucus to address the party discord.