Pacquiao group in talks with ex-senators, new personalities for 2022 senatorial slate

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 30 2021 02:55 PM

MANILA - The PDP-Laban faction led by Sen. Manny Pacquiao is in talks with experienced lawmakers and new names who are "very, very winnable" for its 2022 senatorial slate, an ally said Monday.

Ron Munsayac, executive director of the ruling party under Pacquiao, denied that their group has a "shallow bench" even after most of the ruling party's incumbent leaders sided with President Rodrigo Duterte's faction.

"May mga meetings na nangyayari... Mayroong mga incumbent senators, returning senators and new names na very, very winnable," Munsayac told reporters in an online press conference.

(There are ongoing meetings... Ther are incument senators, returning senators and new names who are very, very winnable.)

He declined to say which sectors these potential candidates belong to, but said: "Tingnan niyo na lang 'yung surveys, makikita ninyo doon." 

(Just look at the surveys and you will see who.)

So far, the Pacquiao wing is finalizing "less than 12 names" for its senatorial slate, Munsayac said.

"Mayroong long list. Tini-trim lang namin kasi kailangan komportable 'yung partido sa kanila," he said.

(We have a long list. We just have to trim it because it is important to have candidates with whom the party is comfortable.)

"Winnability is part of our criteria. Pero importante na fit 'yung personality niya, 'yung platforms niya sa PDP-Laban," he said.

(Winnability is part of our criteria but the candidate's personality and platforms should be fit for PDP-Laban.)

Last week, the PDP-Laban faction controlled by Duterte and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi announced that among their senatorial candidates are the following:

  • Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo
  • Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gringo Honasan
  • Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade
  • Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar
  • House Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta

The President's faction is also considering to include the following in their slate:

  • Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III
  • Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles
  • Quirino Governor Dakila "Dax" Cua
  • Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres

Duterte, 76, earlier accepted a nomination to run as the Cusi faction's vice presidential candidate, a move criticized by many experts and groups, while Pacquiao's camp has yet to decide on a potential second-in-command.

"Wala pa pong final... Open pa po [yung position]," Munsayac said.

Cusi earlier said Pacquiao is welcome to run for a Senate reelection under their wing.

But Munsayac said that the boxer-senator is ready to run as an independent candidate should the Commission on Elections (Comelec) decide in favor of Duterte's faction.

"Ready po siya. Ganiyan po katibay ang prinsipyo ni Sen. Manny Pacquiao," he said.

(He is ready for that. That is how strong Sen. Manny Pacquiao's principle is.)

"Battle-scarred na po kami, battle-hardened. Prepared na po kami," he added.

(We are battle scarred, battle-hardened. We are prepared for this.)

Pacquiao has yet to categorically declare he is running for the country's highest post next year.

The Comelec has yet to settle which faction would be recognized as the official PDP-Laban.

The poll commission needs to decide before the filing of candidacies in October as the group that would be declared to be legitimate would have the right to sign Certificates of Nomination and Acceptance (CONA).

Without a CONA, a candidate would have to run as an independent bet. Under the law, independent candidates have a lower cap on election spending compared to those running under a political party.

Independent candidates are also not allowed to file for substitution.