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Pacquiao expels Cusi, 2 others from PDP-Laban

PDP-Laban under Senator Manny Pacquiao has expelled its vice chairman, Energy secretary Alfonso Cusi, and deputy secretary-general, Melvin Matibag, over alleged violations of its by-laws and constitution.

Apart from Cusi and Matibag, PDP-Laban membership committee head Astra Naik was also kicked out of the ruling party.

In a statement issued on Friday afternoon, PDP-Laban executive director Ron Munsayac said Pacquiao and PDP Laban National Executive Committee (NEC) — the highest administrative and executive body of the party — gave the order after Cusi, Matibag and Naik “showed allegiance to a political party apart from PDP Laban.”

The NEC has passed three party resolutions and one of these stipulated the reasons behind the expulsion of Cusi, Matibag and Naik from the party.

Party resolutions

Under PDP-Laban’s Resolution No. 6 dated June 12, 2021, the national council said the three officials violated Article VII, Section 6 of the party constitution which specifically prohibits members from maintaining any allegiance to another political party.

“Vice Chairman Cusi is already manipulating the party to support the Duterte-Duterte tandem which is a blatant admission of supporting Sara Duterte Carpio for President, who is not a member of the Party. He is guilty of having allegiance to a candidate and her political ideals and party. Such a candidate does not even believe in Federalism, her party fielded candidates against and opposed official candidates of PDP-Laban in 2019 Elections, and she is vehemently opposed to joining the PDP-Laban Party,” the resolution read.

This will remove Matibag, Cusi and Naik of all rights and privileges as members of the PDP-Laban and their positions and authorities in the party will be “immediately terminated.”

The resolution also directed the PDP-Laban members to “cease and desist from following, supporting or giving legitimacy to any directive, resolution, notices, communications or actions” from Cusi, Naik and Matibag related to actions undertaken during the meeting held last May 31, 2021.

The other resolution passed by the NEC authorized Pacquiao to establish an investigation committee that will probe complaints about other PDP-Laban members “who may have violated” the party’s constitution.

“There is a need for PDP Laban to take appropriate actions by reason of the exigencies brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and the unauthorized and illegal acts committed by some of its officers and members with the insidious purpose of illegally wresting control over the Party by violating the Party Constitution, violating the law, sowing confusion, fostering friction, creating divide within the Party and showing allegiance to another Party,” the resolution stated.

The last resolution declared the nullity of the March 31, 2021 meeting and the scheduled July 17, 2021 assembly which was called by Cusi’s faction.

In Resolution No. 5, the PDP-Laban NEC cited Article XVII, Section 1 of the party’s charter, asserting that Cusi does not have the power to call for a National Council meeting as the said provision states “that only the President of the party is authorized to sign documents in behalf of the National Council and the Party.”

A manifesto signed by the 10,000 grassroot members of PDP-Laban has prompted the issuance of the three resolutions, according to the PDP-Laban statement.

The members “condemned this systematic and underhanded effort by some party newcomers and a handful of party officers to sabotage the present leadership, so they may advance a political movement that is against the best interest of our beloved party.”

Day of reckoning

Asked to react, Matibag argued that Pacquiao's group has no authority to discipline national officers calling the committees formed by the lawmaker as "irrelevant."

"I don't wanna give credence to their actions. They don't have any authority to discipline National Officers. It's just a way for them to hype their status in the media," he said.

He also warned Pacquiao's group of their "day of reckoning" on July 17.

"We will just see them in the National Council and National Assembly. These two are the highest governing bodies of the PDP Laban. The committee of Senator Manny Pacquiao is irrelevant. July 17 National Assembly will be the day of their reckoning. We encourage them to challenge the actions of the National Assembly," he said.

"Legally speaking, they don't have any fighting chance."

Sought for comment, Cusi brushed off Pacquiao’s move to expel him from the ruling party.

"Sen. Pacquiao demeans himself by resorting to underhanded tactics. Whoever advises him clearly doesn’t care about him and his reputation," he said

"I pity Sen. Pacquiao, he is clearly misguided. The PDP Laban activities on July 16 and 17 will push through as scheduled and as confirmed by our party Chairman. See you then,” Cusi added.

Pacquiao is currently training in America for his upcoming boxing match against American-boxer Errol Spence in August.

Two groups

Former PDP-Laban president Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who sides with Pacquiao on the ongoing feud within the ruling party, hinted of a possible move by their group on Thursday.

“There are apparently two groups now both moving and carrying the name of the party PDP LABAN. One, with which the President is identified, is led by [Energy Secretary Alfonso] Cusi. The other, with which I and many long time PDP Laban members are identified, is led by Sen. Manny Pacquiao. Let us see how this plays out,” Pimentel, who sits as the party's executive vice chairman, told GMA News Online in a Viber message Thursday.

Pacquiao and Cusi have been asserting power over PDP-Laban after the Energy secretary organized party meetings and assemblies without Pacquiao and Pimentel’s permission.

Malacañang, however, said Cusi has the blessing of the party chairman—President Rodrigo Duterte — to organize these gatherings.

Last Tuesday, Duterte led the PDP-Laban meeting where he also announced that he is “sold on the idea” of running for vice president.

The taped PDP-Laban meeting was aired on Wednesday by state-run PTV 4.

To recall, the idea of Duterte running for vice president first floated in March when some PDP-Laban members circulated a resolution urging him to vie for the country’s second top post.

This was adopted by the national council, led by Cusi, last May 31.—With a report from Ted Cordero/KBK/LDF, GMA News