MANILA - Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III on Sunday said the "real" PDP-Laban would "fight back" against several "hijackers" of the ruling party founded by his father, the late Sen. Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr.
Pimentel, regarded by the faction as the party's chairman, did not mention names during his opening speech at their national assembly held in Quezon City, but the senator has repeatedly called Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi and his group has hijackers in previous interviews.
"Today, we will formally fight back against the hijackers... Lalaban po tayo (We will fight back)," Pimentel said, adding that their faction would field their standard bearer in the 2022 national elections.
"We will happily announce to the Filipino nation that the PDP-Laban will be participating in the 2022 elections," he said, noting that the formal announcement would be made in the latter part of the program.
"Exciting ito dahil malaki ang posibilidad na mananalo tayo sa darating na halalan... at ang tunay na PDP-Laban ang magpapatakbo sa ating gobyerno," he said.
(This is exciting because there is a big possibility that we will win in the upcoming elections... and the real PDP-Laban will head our government.)
Earlier this year, the ruling party had split into two factions after Sen. Manny Pacquiao blocked his partymates' efforts to push President Rodrigo Duterte's candidacy for vice president next year.
For Pimentel's group, Pacquiao is the party president.
Duterte, who joined the party when he ran for president in 2016, supports the Cusi-led wing.
"Kung ihahalintulad po ang PDP-Laban sa isang sasakyan, mayroon pong nakasakay sa ating sasakyan na ngayon tayo na ang pinapaalis at pinapalabas sa ating sasakyan," Pimentel said.
(If we will liken PDP-Laban to a vehicle, someone who is riding in our car now wants to kick us out of our own vehicle.)
Pimentel slammed members of the other faction claiming to be the legitimate PDP-Laban, saying these people have been jumping from one party to another whenever it is convenient for them.
"Ang dami na nilang sasakyan. Napakasakim at swapang naman nila," he said.
(They have too many vehicles already. They are selfish and greedy.)
"If convenient for them, they will join. If no longer convenient, they will destroy," he said.
"Hindi po natin papayagan ang pag-hijack ng ating partido."
(We will not allow them to highjack our party.)
Cusi's group initially urged Pacquiao to run for senator in a slate topbilled by Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go for president and Duterte for vice president.
Pacquiao's camp claimed that Go is only a decoy, as the Cusi wing is actually preparing to field Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio - who is not a PDP-Laban member - as their standard bearer.
Duterte-Carpio has said she will not run for president, and would not "share her light" with the ruling party by endorsing its candidates.
Cusi eventually withdrew the offer, saying the boxing senator has "burned all bridges" with his party mates .
Pimentel's opening statement during the gathering was met with applause from 78 members of the party who physically attended. The group said thousands of their members were attending virtually due to pandemic-related restrictions.
Pacquiao, 42, has said running for president next year is one of three options he is considering.