Nograles: Cusi group is legitimate PDP-Laban; Pacquiao, Pimentel still members

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 19) — The recent election of PDP-Laban's new set of officers proves that there is only one legitimate group despite warring factions in the ruling party, its new executive vice president Karlo Nograles said.

"Everything was done by the book...All the members who voted in the national council and assembly are those who are authorized to vote as per the constitution of PDP-Laban and as per official records submitted to the Commission on Elections by no less than Sen. (Koko) Pimentel himself," Nograles told CNN Philippines' The Source on Monday.

Nograles was among the 16 newly elected officers of PDP-Laban last Saturday, with Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi replacing Sen. Manny Pacquiao as the new party president.

Sen. Aquilino 'Koko' Pimentel III, the party's executive vice chairman and son of party founder Aquilino 'Nene' Pimentel Jr., was also booted out of his post.

The assembly was presided over by party chairman, President Rodrigo Duterte, in Clark, Pampanga.

However, Pacquiao's faction refused to recognize the legality of the event.

READ: Cusi named as new PDP-Laban president in Duterte-led assembly; Pacquiao faction questions legality 

"There’s just one PDP-Laban and one set of officers," Nograles stressed, noting that the activity gives their group the authorization to attest to Comelec who will be the party's official candidates for the upcoming national and local polls.

Nonetheless, Nograles clarified that Pacquiao and Pimentel were not completely removed from the party, since there is a proper mechanism for an expulsion which requires 2/3 votes from the rest of the members.

"They are still members of PDP-Laban," Nograles said. "Alam 'nyo in the party itself, hindi naman yan basta bastang mag-e-expel ka ng member ng partido. May dadaanang, like I said, grievance mechanism yan and may appeals pa nga yan."

[Translation: You know, in the party itself, you cannot just expel any member of the party. You have to undergo, like I said, grievance mechanism and they can even appeal.]

Earlier this month, Pacquiao’s faction issued a resolution “expelling” Cusi and two other PDP-Laban members over alleged breach of the party’s constitution.

Cusi’s group refused to recognize the expulsion order, which it later declared “null and void.”

Nograles, however, said anyone can leave the party if they wish to.

Cusi's group is pushing for Duterte to run for vice president, and the latter has since entertained the idea which he said would give him "immunity" from lawsuit threats.

Meanwhile, Sen. Manny Pacquiao is among those being floated for the presidency in next year's polls.