MANILA—The presidential bid of Sen. Manny Pacquiao under the ruling party PDP-Laban is illegal, a rival faction said Monday.
Lawyer Melvin Matibag, secretary-general of the PDP-Laban Cusi faction, said the assembly held in Sept. 8 where Sen. Bong Go and President Rodrigo Duterte were announced as the party's presidential and vice presidential bets was the "legitimate" one.
"Ngayon po, 'yung naging pulong na 'to illegal po 'to (This assembly is illegal). They can be declared to be a candidate but not as a PDP-Laban candidate," he told Teleradyo.
On Sunday, Pacquiao announced his presidential candidacy during his PDP-Laban faction's national assembly in Quezon City against the backdrop of an ongoing squabble within the ruling party.
The PDP-Laban split into 2 factions earlier this year after Pacquiao blocked his party mates' efforts to push Duterte to run for vice president next year.
Pacquiao's group is backed by Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III - son of PDP-Laban founder and former Sen. Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr, while Duterte supports the wing led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.
In the interview, Matibag said his group was not surprised that Pacquiao was gunning for the country's highest office. He said it was part of the plan of the Pacquiao-led faction when the boxing champ was made party president.
"Nadagdagan pa nga po 'yan ng paniwala ni Sen. Pacquiao na kinausap siya ng Diyos at siya ang anointed one para maging Presidente. So mahirap naman pong pigilan 'yun. Yun naman po ay pangarap niya," Matibag said.
(Sen. Pacquiao also believed God talked to him and he was the anointed one to become President. So, it's hard to stop that. That's his dream.)
Pacquiao was nominated by at least 20 PDP-Laban members with each region in the country fielding a representative to express support for the boxing icon's presidential bid.
He is the second incumbent senator who will seek the Philippines' highest elected post in 2022.
Earlier this month, Sen. Panfilo Lacson launched his campaign for the presidency with Senate President Vicente Sotto III running as his vice president.