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PDP-Laban hopes Pacquiao will join National Assembly

The ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) is hoping that its acting national president, Senator Manny Pacquiao, will make himself available for the party’s National Assembly scheduled on 17 July despite the past war of words between the boxer-lawmaker and the party’s high-ranking officials.

PDP-Laban acting secretary-general Atty. Melvin Matibag on Saturday told the Daily Tribune that there are members of the party who are hopeful that Pacquiao will join the upcoming National Assembly, an event where members can elect national party officers and select its official standard-bearer for 2022 national elections.

Matibag also disclosed that since the party held its national council meeting on 31 May in Cebu City which occurrence Pacquiao opposed, the senator has not made any efforts yet to perhaps reconcile with his party mates, except requesting a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, the party’s national chairman.

However, the official added that the meeting has not transpired yet more than two weeks since PDP-Laban’s executive director Ron Munsayac said Pacquiao will formally ask Mr. Duterte for it.

“To my knowledge, there was still no meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Manny Pacquiao that has occurred yet. There were no (reconciliation) efforts from Sen. Pacquaio except the letter that they sent to President Duterte,” Matibag said in mix Filipino and English.

Munsayac earlier said that Pacquiao needed to meet with the Chief Executive to call for a “legitimate national council meeting” before the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy in October this year.

While Munsayac indirectly called the national council meeting organized by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, the party’s vice-chair, as illegitimate, Matibag maintained that Mr. Duterte instructed Cusi to call for the assembly.

To recall, Pacquiao also “strongly advised” PDP-Laban members to “ignore” Cusi’s call for a national council meeting, saying that he did not authorize it.

During the latest PDP-Laban press conference after the national council meeting, Matibag said the legitimacy of the meeting cannot be questioned since it was attended by some 130 of the 159 members of the party physically and virtually.

An apparent division between Pacquiao and Cusi supposedly erupted in March after the senator accused the Cabinet member of “early politicking” when a resolution urging Mr. Duterte to run for vice president in the 2022 elections emanated.

The resolution also asked Mr. Duterte to choose his running mate.

The resolution was adopted during the national council meeting despite Pacquiao’s opposition.

In a privilege speech at Senate last 2 June, Pacquiao also called Cusi an “incompetent” after rotational blackouts affected parts of Luzon on the same day that the national council meeting was held.

Pacquiao, who is reportedly eyeing the presidency in 2022 but has yet to confirm it, did not only criticize Cusi but the President as well when he disapproved of Mr. Duterte’s stance on the issue of the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

The lawmaker said the Chief Executive’s position is now weaker when he became president compared to his stance during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Because of this, key officials of the PDP-Laban Bulacan Chapter charged Pacquiao with “disloyalty” and for committing “other acts inimical to the party.” They also called out Pacquiao’s statement as “critical and disparaging against the leadership of Duterte.”

Mr. Duterte soon responded saying that Pacquiao should better “study harder” as he still has a “very shallow knowledge” on foreign policy and the ongoing conflict in the contested waters.

Pacquiao retaliated and claimed that Mr. Duterte was only “misinformed” about his previous statement on the WPS dispute.

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