Presidential aspirant Sen. Manny Pacquiao said Thursday he would welcome talks to unite the PDP-Laban especially after his party mate Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go announced his withdrawal from the race.
"What I want is to unite the PDP. Hindi dapat kami magkakaiba ng adbokasiya," said Pacquiao who filed his candidacy under Cebu-based PROMDI Party after a conflict with other PDP-Laban officials led by Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi erupted several months ago over the party's 2022 presidential bet.
(We should have the same advocacy.)
Cusi leads one faction, which President Rodrigo Duterte backs, while another faction is led by Pacquiao and Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, son of the party's co-founder, the late Sen. Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel, Jr. The Cusi group had endorsed the presidential bid of Go, Duterte's longtime aide.
But while Pacquiao is open to holding unification talks for the party, he said he will only entertain those on the condition that Cusi will no longer have anything to do with the party
"Si Cusi, tatanggalin natin siya kasi nadadamay ang iba. My problema tayo sa energy, pero puro siya pulitika. Maghanap ka ng paraan para masolusyon sana ang mga problema at mapababa ang presyo ng kuryente, hindi iyong puro ka pulitika," the retired boxing star said.
(We should remove Cusi because he drags everybody down. We have problems with energy, yet he continues to engage in politicking. He should find ways to solve problems and bring down electricity rates instead of dipping into politics.)
Melvin Matibag of the Cusi wing said Pacquiao's statement "is clearly misplaced and not properly thought out" as, according to him, the Energy Secretary was elected party President under the guidance of Duterte, their chairman.
"Senator Pacquiao must focus on the strength of his candidacy than trying to pick a fight with a non-candidate," Matibag said.
For the Pacquiao-Pimentel wing, the party's chairman is the latter while the former is president.
The battle for control of the party has reached the Commission on Elections but is yet to be resolved.
PDP-Laban has no more presidential bet next year after Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa backed out. Go, who initially filed a vice presidential candidacy under the party, withdrew and then registered as a presidential aspirant under Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan.
On Tuesday, Go said he is withdrawing from the presidential race because he and his family never really aspired for him to seek the country's highest post.
Meanwhile, Pacquiao reiterated his campaign against corruption, saying that aside from building a mega prison for corrupt officials, he would also create special courts that will focus on handling corruption cases.
These special courts will be assigned with their own prosecutors and judges and would be given three to six months to decide on cases.
"Bawal ang corrupt sa bansa natin. Dapat three to six months, tapos na ang kaso para magsama-sama ang mga corrupt sa kulungan, " Pacquiao said.
(Corruption is a crime in our country. Corruption cases should be resolved in three to six months so we can throw the corrupt to jail.)
Pacquiao went around General Santos City and Sarangani Province on a motorcade during the day.
He went to the Pacific Bay College multi-purpose gymnasium to distribute relief packs and P1,000 cash for more than 600 fire victims in Purok Saeg, Brgy. Calumpang.
He also attended the birthday celebration of former Mayor Tata Yap in the town of Glan.
The official campaign period for national position candidates for the May 9, 2022 elections will formally open only on Feb. 8 next year.