'He burned bridges': PDP-Laban wing drops Pacquiao from Senate slate

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 07 2021 11:53 AM | Updated as of Sep 07 2021 04:52 PM

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte meets with Senator Emmanuel
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte meets with Senator Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao as the latter pays a courtesy call to the President Christopher in Malacañan on November 14. Simeon Celi, Malacanang Photo

MANILA — A PDP-Laban wing led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said on Tuesday it was no longer considering Sen. Manny Pacquiao in its Senate slate for the 2022 elections. 

The Cusi group earlier said it had offered to carry Pacquiao in its Senate slate after ousting him as party president, following a word war with President Rodrigo Duterte. Pacquiao's faction in late August ousted Duterte from his role as party chairman.

"We have been inviting him (Pacquiao), been wanting to meet with him. But unfortunately, he closed the door to us," Cusi said in a virtual press conference. 

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"Ang nangyari kasi, [he] not just closed the door, but also burned the bridges." 

The 2 PDP-Laban factions filed separate Sworn Information Update Statements in August. The group that will fail to get the Comelec's approval would have no right to issue Certificates of Nomination and Acceptance needed to run under a party.

The Cusi wing is set to reveal its Senate candidates in a convention on Wednesday. 

Pacquiao is ready to run as an independent candidate, his ally Ron Munsayac earlier said. 

Asked if the other wing was also ready to field independent candidates, Cusi said, "We’ll cross the bridge when we get there… We are prepared as a party."

"Of course, we have been planning what are the options in events, in cases like that," he said. 

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Pacquiao, Duterte, and their respective supporters have been trying to wrest control of the PDP-Laban party ahead of elections in May by unilaterally electing their own members to leading party roles.

The 2 men had a falling-out in June after Pacquiao criticized Duterte's stance on the South China Sea territorial dispute with China, while the latter lashed back by lambasting the boxer's "shallow" foreign policy

The head of the election commission was cited recently as saying it would have to decide based on documents and the party's constitution which faction is the legitimate representative of PDP-Laban.

Last week Duterte, who has been in power since 2016, said he would run for the vice presidency under the PDP-Laban banner. Under the constitution, a president can serve only one 6-year term.

The Cusi wing's Sept. 8 convention is expected to endorse Duterte's aide and incumbent senator Christopher "Bong" Go to be its presidential candidate. 

Pacquiao has said he would announce this September if he will run for president in 2022. 

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— With a report from Reuters