MANILA — The rift between 2 factions within the fractured ruling party PDP-Laban escalated Tuesday after a leader of one wing confirmed they have filed a petition asking the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to declare the other group's actions "illegal." PDP-Laban secretary general Melvin Matibag, who belongs to the faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, told ABS-CBN News they have asked Comelec to "declare all the actions and representations of Sen. Koko Pimentel and Sen. Manny Pacquiao to be illegal and not sanctioned by the PDP-Laban party."
Pacquiao is the leader of the other faction, backed by Pimentel, son of one of the party's founders Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr.
The Cusi wing, meanwhile, is supported by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Matibag said they are questioning the "validity" of the Pacquiao wing's actions.
Matibag said he and Cusi, who is president of his PDP-Laban wing, signed the verification of the petition filed to the Comelec.
"All their actions should be declared illegal and we are asking the Comelec to refrain them from representing that they are the official representative of PDP-Laban," Matibag said.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez confirmed the poll body had received the petition from the Cusi camp.
Asked for comment, Pimentel said the only PDP-Laban he knows is the one founded by his father, where he has belonged "since 1980s."
"We need to go over the Petition because I have been with the PDP LABAN since 1980s and I only know of ONE PDP LABAN which my father founded and which I never left together with thousands of party diehards at the grassroots level," he said.
The Cusi wing's petition is the latest development in the ongoing feud inside the political party.
Both wings earlier confirmed they submitted to Comelec separate Sworn Information Update Statement (SIUS) — a document stating the party's office details, list of officers, list of elected members, and other information.
SIUS deemed legitimate by Comelec will be used as basis on which party officials would sign the Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance (CONA), a requirement for candidates who wish to run under a political party.
Candidates who fail to submit a CONA will be deemed independent bets.
Comelec chairman Sheriff Abas predicted "bloody" deliberations on which PDP-Laban wing to recognize, but added they will be guided by laws in resolving the case.
Pacquiao, formerly a close ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, a party stalwart, is known to be eyeing the presidency. The Cusi wing, meanwhile, has been pushing for Duterte aide Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go to run for president, with the incumbent as his running mate.