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Amid rift, Duterte urges PDP-Laban partymates to 'remain united, stand together'

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday called on the ruling PDP-Laban party, which he chairs, to maintain unity as they strengthen their gains in governance.

In a pre-recorded message aired during the party's national assembly in Cebu, Duterte urged his partymates "to stand together and remain united not by personal interest but by our principles and values as we chart the future of our party and the rest of the nation."

Days before the assembly, on May 25, Senator Manny Pacquiao, the party's acting president, issued a memorandum telling members to ignore the invitation of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, the party's vice chairman, to attend the gathering.

Pacquiao claimed the assembly is against PDP-Laban's constitution.

However, Cusi still pushed with the national assembly despite calls from "minority" of the partymates to ignore the event.

Over the weekend, presidential spokesman Harry Roque bared that it was Duterte who ordered Cusi to preside and organize the meeting.

"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," Roque said in a previous statement. 

In his video message, Duterte urged his partymates to "stay true to the party's mission to prioritize the welfare of our people."

"As we continue to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to work together in pursuing the initiatives that will strengthen gains in good governance especially those that will foster lasting peace and progress for our nation," he said. —KBK, GMA News