MANILA, Philippines (Updated 6:07 p.m.) — Tensions in the ruling PDP-Laban Party continue to show after a ranking exec criticized the announcement made by presidential spokesperson Harry Roque of a council meeting.
This came after Roque, who is not a member of the party, announced earlier Sunday that PDP-Laban vice chair and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi was directed by President Rodrigo Duterte to convene and preside over a council meeting.
"Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi as vice chairman of the ruling party PDP-Laban was directed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who serves as chairman, to organize, convene and preside over the council meeting," Roque said n a statement.
"This move, which is part of the democratic exercise, aims to consult party members and have fruitful and productive exchanges on issues affecting PDP-Laban," he added.
In a statement, PDP Laban's National Executive Director Ron Munsayac pointed out that only the chief executive, who serves as Chairman of the party, has the power to call an assembly.
"With all due respect to the Presidential Spokesperson, the PDP Laban has its Constitution and Bylaws for a reason. It's very clear that only the Chairman (President Duterte) in coordination with the Party President (Manny Pacquiao) can call on the Party's National Council and/or Assembly," the statement read.
"If this purported council meeting is sanctioned by our Chairman, how come we have not received any formal communication, only an announcement from his spokesperson who isn't even a partymate?"
To recall, PDP-Laban acting president Sen. Manny Pacquiao slammed Cusi for violating the party's constitution with his call for a meeting of the national council, a power that he said was Duterte's alone.
Earlier this weekend, Pacquiao told Cusi not to "divide" the party "for his own interest" and urged his partymates to snub the call for the meeting, which he said was not sanctioned by national officers.
"Let us follow the proper process. Sen. Manny Pacquiao will request for a meeting with chairman so the two party leaders can discuss and set the agenda for the legitimate national council meeting to be set a month before the filing of candidacies, or earlier if the chairman wishes," Munsayac said.
The boxer turned senator earlier disowned calls for Duterte to run as vice president in the 2022 polls, going as far as warning Cusi against “poisoning” the minds of their party mates.
“It's embarrassing that we're talking about politics as early as May. And then we will uproot some local executives, governor, mayors, party mates, some congressmen to go to Cebu to discuss politics,” Munsayac also said in mixed Filipino and English in an interview aired over One News’ “The Chiefs” earlier this weekend.
PDP-Laban vice president for external affairs Raul Lambino, meanwhile, said Pacquiao cannot stop the assembly from happening on Monday in Cebu City because it was called by Duterte. He said under the party's constitution, only Duterte, as party chairman, "has the sole power to call the meetings of the national council."
Pacquiao's letter asking party members to ignore Cusi's invitation to the national council assembly "has no legal basis and only serves to confuse the members of the party," Lambino added.
Lambino also disputed Pacquiao’s claim that the only purpose of the meeting was to talk politics. He argued that it is just proper for PDP-Laban to hold consultations on how to support Duterte's agenda.
— with reports from Alexis Romero, The STAR and ONE News PH
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