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Cusi-led faction asks Comelec to declare Pacquiao, Pimentel as illegitimate party reps

PDP-Laban faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi on Tuesday filed a petition before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to declare Senators Manny Pacquiao and Aquilino 'Koko' Pimentel III as illegal representatives of their party.

Poll body spokesperson James Jimenez confirmed this to reporters when asked on the matter.

In a message to reporters, PDP-Laban Cusi faction secretary general Melvin Matibag said they they filed the case "against the group usurping party authority and pretending to be representatives of our party."

"The matter is now with the COMELEC and we will let the established Law, Rules and Regulations prevail. We shall refrain from discussing the specific issues raised in our Petition out of respect to the Commission," he added.

In reaction to this, Pimentel III said they have yet to read the filed document as he also maintained his ties with PDP-Laban since the 1980s.

The senator's father, late and former Senate President Nene Pimentel is the founder of PDP-Laban.

"We need to go over the Petition because I have been with the PDP LABAN since 1980s and I only know of ONE PDP LABAN which my father founded and which I never left together with thousands of party diehards at the grassroots level," said Pimentel.

'Recognized by grassroots members, senior leaders'

Meanwhile, PDP-Laban executive director Ron Munsayac, Pacquiao's ally, did not directly react to the petition as they have yet to receive the copy of it.

But he underscored that Pimentel's leadership is "recognized by grassroots members and senior leaders" of PDP Laban.

"However, let me emphasize that the leadership of Chairman Aquilino Koko Pimentel is recognized by the grassroots members and senior leaders of the PDP Laban who have stood by and loyally represented the ideals of the party as envisioned by its founding members since 1982," said Munsayac in another statement.

Any contradictory statement against Pacquiao is also a "lame attempt" to downplay the public's trust in the senator's anti-corruption drive, Munsayac also said.

"Senator Manny Pacquiao continues to enjoy the confidence of the PDP-Laban stalwarts," said Munsayac. "Any statement to the contrary is a lame attempt to undermine the public’s  trust in his leadership and anti-corruption advocacy." 

Pacquiao previously aired his concerns on the reported rampant corruption in the government, which did not sit well with the President.

Before he left for his boxing match against Yordenis Ugas, Pacquiao also bared corruption allegations on cash aid distribution as well as alleged anomalies in the Department of Health and Department of Energy

Pacquiao's faction earlier expelled Cusi and Matibag from the party. Days later, Cusi's faction ousted Pacquiao as party president.

Amid the ongoing rift between the two factions, Cusi earlier revealed that Pacquiao cut ties with PDP-Laban wing, which offered the senator to be included in the party's senatorial slate for Eleksyon 2022.

A week ago, the Pacquiao faction ousted President Rodrigo Duterte as party chairman, replacing him with Pimentel.— AOL/RSJ, GMA News