Duterte's PDP-Laban faction endorses Marcos’ presidential bid

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 22) — Presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has secured the support of the faction of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino - Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) backed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

However, the faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi admitted Tuesday that it does not mean Duterte is supporting their candidate. He added it must be clarified with the presidential spokesperson.

RELATED: Palace: Duterte not anointing any prexy bet yet despite PDP-Laban endorsement

Duterte has yet to name his choice of successor. He said he prefers a compassionate and decisive lawyer, which Marcos is not. He also previously described the son and namesake of ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos as a "weak leader" with a baggage.

Thirteen officials signed the resolution, including Sen. Bong Go—who withdrew his candidacy as PDP-Laban's standard bearer. There was no signature next to the name of PDP-Laban's vice president for Visayas Ben Evardone, who openly endorsed Marcos' closest rival VP Leni Robredo.

Cusi said they picked Marcos for his "unwavering and very consistent" campaign promise to continue the key projects started by the Duterte administration, such as the "Build, Build, Build" infrastructure program. He added Marcos was the choice of the majority of party members.

Marcos welcomed the support of the Cusi faction, saying it will further solidify his campaign battlecry for unity.

"Ang bagong development na ito [The new development], this will consolidate the forces of unity so we can continue to work against those who would want to divide Filipinos against each other," he said in a chance interview in Cavite.

The bloc previously adopted Marcos' running mate, presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, as its vice presidential bet for the May 9 elections.

PDP-Laban's history

Senators Koko Pimentel and Manny Pacquiao, who are from the rival faction, decried the move.

Pimentel said the Cusi group's endorsement of Marcos only shows they are "strangers" to the political party founded by his father.

PDP-Laban was the result of a merger of PDP headed by the late Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Lakas ng Bayan (Laban) founded by the late Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. meant to stand against the dictatorship of Marcos' father, Ferdinand Marcos.

"They don’t even acknowledge that PDP-LABAN was established to oppose the Marcos dictatorship," Pimentel said.

Pacquiao, for his part, called on the party members to ignore the endorsement.

“Lahat ng miyembro ng PDP, huwag po natin sundin si Cusi,” Pacquiao said in an ambush interview. “[P]arang isang sampal para sa mga miyembro ng PDP.”

[Translation: All of the members of PDP, don’t listen to Cusi. It’s (endorsement) is like a slap to all members of the PDP.]

But Cusi insisted it's time to move on.

"Hindi na natin papatulan pa. We are moving forward. Kapag laging past ang iniisip and we live by the past, walang mangyayari sa atin. Kailangan umusad tayo," he said.

[Translation: We will not respond to that. We are moving forward. If we always look at the past and we live by the past, we won't move. We need to move forward.]

Pimentel urged the Commission on Elections to fast-track the deliberation on which faction is the legitimate one, calling Cusi's group "usurpers."

With this development, political analyst Jorge Tigno warned of future issues the ruling party may still face.

"There is already a crack in the PDP-Laban party between the Cusi wing and Pacquiao wing... I think the endorsement by the Cusi wing leadership was probably done behind the backs of the members of the wing itself so you might see cracks developing later on," he told CNN Philippines.