Ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) on Saturday ousted Senator Manny Pacquiao as party president and installed Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi as his replacement.
"I will live by the oath I took," said Cusi, after he was sworn in by President Rodrigo Duterte, who is party chairman. Cusi's assumption came shortly after Pacquiao's post was declared vacant.
Pacquiao, who is in the United States to prepare for his title boxing fight against Errol Spence, was expelled from his post in the party just seven months after he took oath as PDP-Laban president.
In a statement, Pacquiao slammed the assembly: "Kung sa tingin nila Cusi at iba pa na mas importante ang politika sa ngayon, bahala na sila. Sa huli, isa lang naman ang tanong na dapat sagutin. Sino ba ang sasamahan ng taong bayan?"
The senator-boxer added: “Nakakalungkot na nakapasok na ang Delta variant sa Pilipinas at kapag hindi maagapan, marami ang maaaring mahawa. Ito dapat ang prioridad ng ating gobyerno.”
Pacquiao's ouster came a day after the PDP-Laban faction led by Cusi opened the new nominations for new party officials.
Cusi has organized the national assembly in Clark, Pampanga which was attended by Duterte.
As announced earlier by the Palace, the entire PDP-Laban elections were not open to the media.
The event organizers said the event will be covered by the RTVM but they later on informed members of the media that only Duterte’s speech will be broadcast live.
"It is an intra-party affair. Does not have to be for public consumption," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque explained in a chance interview.
Around 250 voting delegates have attended the assembly with some PDP-Laban members representing their respective councils, according to PDP-Laban deputy secretary general Melvin Matibag.
“They are entitled to another vote representing their respective councils. For example, a congressman of a district is entitled to a vote and if he is the president of the city council, he votes for that City Council too,” he earlier explained.
There were also 82 delegates who virtually joined the assembly.
The party members are expected to vote for the following positions: President, Executive Vice President, Vice Presidents for NCR, Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, Secretary General, Treasurer, Auditor.
They will also pick heads of the party committees on Membership, Education, Finance, Legal, Public Information, Livelihood, and Youth Affairs.
Pacquiao took his oath as PDP-Laban President last December 2020 alongside Speaker Lord Allan Velasco who took oath then as PDP-Laban Executive Vice President.
Pacquiao and his PDP allies earlier issued a resolution expelling PDP-Laban Vice Chairman Al Cusi, PDP-Laban Deputy Secretary General Melvin Matibag and PDP-Laban membership committee head Astra Naik over alleged violations of the party’s by-laws and constitution by “showing allegiance to a political party apart from PDP Laban.”
Likewise, Pacquiao and his allies also issued resolutions invalidating what transpired in the previous two PDP-Laban meetings where a number of party members prodded President Duterte to run for Vice President in 2022, with others even asking the Chief Executive to pick Bong Go as his running mate.
Despite this move, President Rodrigo Duterte continued to recognize Cusi as PDP-Laban leader and even attended Saturday's meeting when Pacquiao was ultimately expelled.
Ahead of Saturday’s meeting, the Cusi-led faction rejected the resolution issued by the Pacquiao-led wing.
The infighting within the party started when President Duterte accused Pacquiao of saying that corruption tripled during the Duterte administration.
Since then, the President has called Pacquiao a liar and a punch drunk.
It was unclear when Pacquiao supposedly made the claim, but Pacquiao has called on his party-mates during his oath taking as PDP-Laban President in December 2020 to shun corruption. —MDM, GMA News