President Rodrigo Duterte said on Saturday that Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III was to blame for Senator Manny Pacquiao’s problems within the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
He said Pimentel “started the ruckus” by appointing Pacquiao as the “acting president” of PDP-Laban late last year.
“You just do not push somebody there. ‘You can now serve as the president’. That is not how things are done,” Duterte said partly in Filipino. “It is Koko’s mistake, not Pacquiao’s. Pacquiao does not know anything.”
Pacquiao was literally ousted as PDP-Laban president during Saturday’s PDP-Laban meet in Clark, Pampanga, with Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi taking his place.
Cusi’s election as PDP-Laban president comes weeks after he was expelled from the party along with two other officials. Cusi was the former vice-chairman of the ruling party.
Right after learning of Cusi’s election as party president, Pacquiao said he will not recognize his “ouster” as president of PDP-Laban.
Pimentel also called for the party’s members to continue supporting the leadership of Pacquiao and belittled the Saturday’s PDP-Laban meeting.
“The gathering hosted by Sec. Cusi is not recognized by the present PDP-Laban leadership,” Pimentel said.
Duterte expects Pimentel to strike back
Duterte said that Pimentel might make a move to challenge the election of new PDP-Laban officers.
“Perhaps, Koko is now drafting a petition for the Comelec [Commission on Elections]). But let’s see). Let us see. Let us see. He was the one who started the ruckus,” he said partly in Filipino.
Duterte, however, reminded Pimentel that PDP-Laban, which was “asleep for 100 years,” only “woke up during the election and when I ran for the presidency under the ticket”.
Amid the feud within the PDP-Laban, Duterte called on his party mates to remain focused on their ultimate goal of bringing comfortable life to all Filipinos.
“Let us not be blinded by our own ambitions and let us not allow this party to advance personal interests,” Duterte said. “To my dear party mates, let us never lose sight of the founding principles from which this party was built on. And let us never forget that our end goal is always to improve welfare of the Filipino people.”
Duterte said the attendance of PDP-Laban members in the national assembly sends a “clear and resounding” message that the ruling party is “as strong as ever.”
“Despite all the challenges that we are facing, your unwavering support for this administration’s priorities – especially our campaign against illegal drugs, terrorism, corruption, and poverty – is truly reassuring,” he said.
Given that the PDP-Laban has “grown big” and that its members appear to be “united” until the end of his term, Duterte vowed to campaign for those who want to run in the 2022 local and national and elections.