Duterte to meet with two factions to unite PDP-Laban

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FILE PHOTO. President Rodrigo Duterte and members of PDP-Laban at the party's 35th anniversary celebration.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 28) — President Rodrigo Duterte will meet with the leaders of two factions of PDP-Laban in a bid to unite the ruling party.

This was confirmed by Special Assistant to the President Bong Go in an interview with CNN Philippines Friday night.

Go said Duterte will call for a party caucus in August, but the date has yet to be set.

He added that the two leaders claiming to be PDP-Laban President, Senator Koko Pimentel and National Council Chairman Rogelio Garcia are willing to meet with the President.

When asked who Duterte recognizes as PDP-Laban President, Go said, "only the President can answer (that)."

"But Koko Pimentel says he's the one registered with the Comelec (Commission on Elections)," Go said, adding that Duterte wants to resolve the division among party members in time for the 2019 midterm elections.

Confusion rose Friday after PDP-Laban's national council elected Garcia as party president in an assembly attended by thousands of supposed regional party members.

Pimentel, however, refused to acknowledge the event, calling it unauthorized. He maintained there is no change in leadership.

The shakeup at PDP-Laban comes after the ouster of its secretary-general, Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez, as House Speaker.

Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo replaced Alvarez after more than 200 lawmakers voted for a change in leadership on Monday, the same day the President delivered his State of the Nation Address.

The national council also unseated Alvarez, while it kept Go as the party's auditor.

There are also talks of congressmen leaving PDP-Laban to jump ship to Lakas-CMD, Arroyo's political party before she pledged allegiance to PDP-Laban in October 2017.

House Deputy Speaker Rolando Andaya said Lakas-CMD may possibly merge with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio's regional party, Hugpong ng Pagbabago.

Duterte-Carpio on Friday said her regional party is willing to forge alliances with other political groups.

Some congressmen said Duterte-Carpio made calls asking lawmakers to oust Alvarez and replace him with Arroyo.

Malacañang dismissed speculations the President had a hand in the controversial change of leadership at the House of Representatives.