MANILA — Sen. Manny Pacquiao said Wednesday Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi was the reason for the infighting in the PDP-Laban, an allegation the latter had already rejected.
The presidential aspirant accused Cusi, who leads a faction of the ruling party, of having "vested interest" but he did not elaborate.
"Ang dahilan po diyan ay si Cusi. Siya po ang may nakita nating maraming vested interest diyan," Pacquiao told TeleRadyo's "On The Spot"
"Kalaunan, iniwanan din nila 'yung partido. Wala po tuloy tumakbo na presidente sa partido PDP."
(The reason [for the infighting] is Cusi. We saw he has a lot of vested interest in the party. Eventually, they left the party. No one ran for president under PDP.)
Cusi has yet to comment on Pacquiao's latest remarks. But he said in past interviews that the boxing champ supposedly "burned bridges" with party members.
He previously said the rift began in December when Pacquiao was "suddenly" elected as acting president in a Thanksgiving party, in which President Rodrigo Duterte, the party chair, was not invited.
In March, Cusi's group began collecting signatures from PDP-Laban members to urge Duterte to run for vice president next year, when his term as president ends.
"It's not us that caused the problem. That started in December of 2020, and escalated in February when Sen. Pacquiao questioned us why we are encouraging the President to run for Vice President. And that happened in a presscon, rather than in a meeting. So, dun nagsimula lahat yun," Cusi said in an interview on ANC Headstart last Oct. 4.
Pacquiao and Duterte were engaged in a word war after the former criticized his once close ally over his position on the South China Sea issue and alleged corruption under the current administration.
Pacquiao leads the other PDP-Laban faction, along with Sen. Aquilino Koko Pimentel III, son of one of the party's founders the late Sen. Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr.
The Cusi wing, on the other hand, is backed by Duterte.
While the battle for control of the party has yet to be resolved by the Commission on Elections, the two faction's standard bearers filed their candidacies for the 2022 elections under different parties.
Pacquiao is running for president under the Progressive Movement for the Devolution of Initiative or PROMDI.
Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go, Duterte's longtime aide who was endorsed by the Cusi wing for the country's top elective post, filed his candidacy under the Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan party. He recently announced he is quitting from the presidential race, although has yet to formally withdraw.
Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa filed his candidacy for president under PDP-Laban, but also backed out.