Pacquiao-led PDP Laban group ousts Duterte as party chairman

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 29) — A faction of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan led by Senator Manny Pacquiao has elected a new party chairman, ousting President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a message to CNN Philippines Sunday, PDP Laban executive director Ron Munsayac said Senator Koko Pimentel has replaced Duterte.

"Sen. Pimentel is the new chairman, former Gov. Barbo is the new vice chairman," said Munsayac.

Former Eastern Samar governor Lutgardo Barbo, the party's erstwhile Visayas vice president, takes over the role of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, who was named president of the Duterte-led faction during a national assembly in July.

Munsayac added that the new positions were effective immediately.

The PDP-Laban faction has scheduled a national assembly in September where it would announce its presidential candidate.

In a speech, Pimentel said the development is a good one "as this shows that those who have dedicated themselves to the party and have shown loyalty and love for the party, are also loved and shown support in return."

Pimentel also touched upon several topics, among them fighting for what rightfully belongs to the country under international law, democratic socialism, and the merits of the federal form of government and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

He also addressed members of the "other side," saying, "Wala talaga silang kaalam-alam sa ating partido."

[Translation: They really know nothing about our party.]

"Nagkakagulo na sila. Hindi na nila alam kung sino ang presidential candidate nila kasi tinatanggihan sila ng mga prospects nila. Pero binaliktad nila ang proseso at meron na silang vice presidential candidate, nauna pa sa presidential candidate."

[Translation: They are confused. They do not know who their presidential candidate is because their prospects have declined their offer. But they turned the process upside down and now they already have a vice presidential candidate, even before choosing a presidential candidate.]

'It's a comedy'

Melvin Matibag, the secretary general of the PDP-Laban faction headed by Cusi, belittled the development calling it a "comedy."

"Sen. Koko Pimentel has no position in the PDP-Laban. He is irrelevant and he does not represent the party. His group are pretenders and are attention seekers. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is the PDP-Laban party chairman. He remains to be so and will continue to be so," said Matibag in a statement.

Following the rift in the party, the Commission on Elections will decide which PDP-Laban group is legitimate based on the party’s constitution and bylaws.

Last week, Duterte accepted his faction’s endorsement to run for vice president in the coming polls, saying he "agreed to make the sacrifice and heed the clamor of the people."

However, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte would step aside to give way to his daughter if Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte decides to run for the highest office next year.

READ: Analyst: PDP-Laban faction's Go-Duterte tandem only a 'ploy' to coerce Sara's 2022 plans

In a statement on Wednesday, Mayor Duterte urged her father and his supposed running mate, Senator Bong Go, to "own up" publicly about their decision to run as a tandem after her father "personally confirmed" to her his plan in next year's polls. << >>

CNN Philippines' Eimor Santos and Pia Garcia contributed to this report