Pimentel: Pacquiao's PROMDI candidacy meant to solidify bases

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 5) — Sen. Koko Pimentel on Tuesday defended the decision of Sen. Manny Pacquiao to run under the PROMDI political party when he filed his candidacy for president.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source, Pimentel said that Pacquiao's supposed expulsion from PDP-Laban initiated by the other faction led by Energy secretary Alfonso Cusi was only intended to distract the presidential aspirant.

"Ginugulo lang nila ang aming presidential candidate na si (They are only distracting our presidential candidate) Sen. Manny Pacquiao. All of the moves of the legitimate PDP Laban were in accordance with the PDP-Laban constitution. Our constitution allows alliance agreements, therefore we entered into an alliance agreement," said Pimentel, referring to the 'MP3 Alliance' among the ruling party, PROMDI, and the People's Champ Movement.

Pacquiao was the first to file his candidacy for president last Friday, with his running mate BUHAY Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza.

Sen. Bong Go, who was endorsed by the Cusi wing as its presidential candidate, instead filed his candidacy for vice president, replacing party chair and President Rodrigo Duterte who then announced his retirement from politics after his term. The faction still has not named its official standard bearer.

PDP Laban secretary general Melvin Matibag of the Cusi wing said that under the party's constitution, a member who files a COC under another party is automatically expelled.

But Pimentel, who drafted the PDP-Laban constitution, stressed that Pacquiao's PROMDI candidacy is only meant to "solidify his base" as a real PDP-Laban candidate who represents people "from the province."

The senator also refuted claims that this move was in preparation for the possibility that the Commission on Elections may declare his group illegitimate, in response to the Cusi wing's petition.

RELATED: Comelec orders Pacquiao faction to answer Cusi wing’s PDP-Laban row petition 

"I filed the answer to the Cusi petition in the Comelec so I know what that Cusi petition contains, I know what our answer contains. I am very confident that my group or the real PDP Laban will win the case before the Comelec," Pimentel said.

"In form and in substance, the Cusi petition is very lacking, very deficient."

Political contenders from the two factions of the ruling party PDP-Laban may still file their certificates of candidacy for the 2022 polls, pending the final decision of the Comelec on their dispute.

Both rival groups have earlier filed their respective Sworn Information Update Statement or list of officers, a requirement for all political parties as part of their accreditation.

Comelec chair Sheriff Abas previously told The Source that representatives of the poll body will have to vote on the matter "sometime in November."

RELATED: Rival PDP-Laban factions allowed to file candidacies for now