MANILA — A faction within the PDP-Laban is offering to carry Sen. Manny Pacquiao in its Senate slate after ousting him as party president in the wake of a word war with President Rodrigo Duterte, an official of the political party that the latter chairs said on Wednesday.
Pacquiao had opposed the party's endorsement of Duterte as vice presidential candidate in the 2022 elections from the faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi. The President and the senator later in July exchanged tirades over alleged corruption in government.
Despite this, the Cusi group is "reaching out" to Pacquiao's camp to discuss "possible options" for him in next year's polls, said Cabinet Secretary and PDP-Laban executive vice president Karlo Nograles.
Pacquiao is known to be eyeing the presidency.
"In fact, marami po sa mga aming council members, national officers ang nag-aalok na, ‘Why not ano, senator na lang?’" Nograles told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
"Puwede naman po na maging isa sa mga senatorial candidates natin si Sen. Manny for reelection. Open pa naman tayo sa possibility na ‘yan," he added.
(Many of our council members, national officers are offering, 'Why not just run as senator?' Sen. Manny can be one of our senatorial candidates for reelection. We are open to that possibility.)
Duterte on Tuesday said he would seek the vice presidency in 2022, confirming an earlier announcement by PDP-Laban. His long-time aide, Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go, would be the standard-bearer.
Critics believe Duterte could be making a play to retain power by taking over as president under a scenario in which Go wins and then resigns. This would allow Duterte to shield himself from possible litigation when he leaves office.
On Wednesday, the President's spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte told officials he and Go would not join the 2022 elections if Duterte's daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio seeks the presidency.
Duterte-Carpio has outshone both Go and Pacquiao in opinion polls. But she and her father have played down the prospect of her running.
On Wednesday, the mayor urged her father, Go, and the PDP-Laban "to stop talking about me and make me the reason for them running or not running."
Political analyst Victor Manhit said until candidacies were officially filed, starting in October, everything is speculation, with opinion polls showing other vice presidential candidates including a Manila mayor just behind Duterte.
— With a report from Reuters