PDP-Laban expels Cusi, 2 others; supports Pacquiao in ‘crackdown’ vs party charter violators

Maris Federez   •   July 9, 2021   •   716

MANILA, Philippines — The Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban) has expelled party vice chairman and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, deputy secretary-general Melvin Matibag, and membership committee head Astra Naik.

In a statement, PDP-Laban said the officials were expelled from the party for violating its constitution by showing allegiance to a political party apart from them.

It added that three resolutions were issued in response to a manifesto signed by more than 10,000 grassroots members of the PDP Laban which condemned “this systematic and underhanded effort by some party newcomers and a handful of party officers to sabotage the present leadership, so they may advance a political movement that is against the best interest of our beloved party.”

The statement said the expulsion of Cusi, Matibag, and Naik was explained in Resolution No.6 issued by Party President Sen. Manny Pacquiao and the PDP Laban National Executive Committee (NEC).

The Resolution, dated June 12, 2021, formally removed Cusi, Matibag, and Naik from the party for violation of Article VII Section 6 of the Party Constitution which specifically prohibits members from maintaining any allegiance to another political party.

“Vice Chairman Cusi is already manipulating the party to support the Duterte-Duterte tandem which is a blatant admission of supporting Sara Duterte Carpio for President, who is not a member of the Party. He is guilty of having allegiance to a candidate and her political ideals and party,” the resolution stated.

PDP-Laban members “were likewise directed to cease and desist from following, supporting, or giving legitimacy to any directive, resolution, notices, communications, or actions of Vice-Chairman Alfonso Cusi, Ms. Astra Naik, and Atty. Melvin Matibag related to or derived and resulting from the aforementioned acts and the meeting held on May 31, 2021,” the resolution said.

Resolution No. 4 was also issued by the NEC authorizing Pacquiao to “direct, organize, create and appoint investigation committees from the National Committees” to deal with complaints and information regarding certain officers and members of the party who may have violated the Party Constitution or may have committed acts inimical to the Party by showing allegiance to another Party.

“There is a need for PDP-Laban to take appropriate actions by reason of the exigencies brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and the unauthorized and illegal acts committed by some of its officers and members with the insidious purpose of illegally wresting control over the Party by violating the Party Constitution, violating the law, sowing confusion, fostering friction, creating a divide within the Party and showing allegiance to another party,” the resolution stated.

Resolution No. 5, on the other hand, was issued to declare the nullity of the March 31, 2021 meeting and the scheduled July 17, 2021 assembly of the PDP Laban National Council that was called upon by Cusi and Matibag, the statement said.

The resolution reiterated that Cusi does not have the power to call for a National Council meeting because Article XVII Section 1 of their Constitution provides “that only the President of the party is authorized to sign documents on behalf of the National Council and the Party.”

Meanwhile, Deputy Secretary-General Melvin Matibag has also issued a statement on this recent development.

“I don’t wanna give credence to their actions. They don’t have any authority to discipline National Officers. It’s just a way for them to hype their status in the media. We will just see them in the National Council and National Assembly. These two are the highest governing bodies of the PDP Laban,” Matibag said.

“The committee of Senator Manny Pacquiao is irrelevant. July 17 National Assembly will be the day of their reckoning. We encourage them to challenge the actions of the National Assembly. Legally speaking, they don’t have any fighting chance,” he added. —/mbmf

PDP-Laban Pacquiao-led wing denounces Cusi-led Clark assembly

Maris Federez   •   July 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Other members of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) have denounced the national assembly led by party vice-chairman, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi on Saturday.

“Thousands of bona fide and original grassroots members of PDP-Laban strongly denounced personalities (party officials) who are behind the party’s purported national assembly in Clark, Pampanga and described the election of its new officers as a farce, illegal and not sanctioned by the general membership,” the group said in a statement.

Members of the more than 100 PDP-Laban chapters nationwide, in a simultaneous “zoom” meeting, said that “all party officials are elected by the party’s general membership and not by a few politicians who are not even full-fledged party members.”

They group also insisted that all actions made during the Cusi-led “illegal assembly” were not authorized nor sanctioned by party president Senator Manny Pacquiao, and that such moves have no force and effect over the PDP-Laban.

In the meeting, Jovel Lopez, who is a PDP-Laban community leader in Bulacan and a party cadre since the founding of the party by former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel in 1982, said he does not understand why party newcomers and interlopers are now trying to wrest control of the party.

“Nagtataka nga po kami kung bakit ngayon eh ang daming nagsulputang mga politiko na nagsasabing PDP daw sila at kami pa na mga orihinal na miyembro ang naitsa-pwera.  Hindi naman po kami basta-basta makakapayag na itong mga sabit na ito ang mamayagpag sa partidong aming itinayo,” Lopez said.

Meanwhile, CDO City Council President Marlo Tabac who is a PDP-Laban grassroots leader in Mindanao stressed that Pacquiao has the full support of the majority of the party members and does not recognize the proceedings and the actions taken in the Clark assembly.

“The Clark assembly is a farce. Karamihan naman sa mga nandoon ay pawang mga sabit lang sa partido and they are not even real members of PDP-Laban. Their political loyalty has never been with PDP-Laban so there’s really no doubt in my mind that they are out to destroy the party,” Tabac said.

“Let me remind them however that this was not the first time that people tried to bring down PDP-Laban but they failed. I can tell you now, they will fail again,” he added.

PDP-Laban founding member Executive Vice-Chairman Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, likewise, reminded the members to stay united behind the leadership of Pacquiao.

“Tayo po ay may hinaharap na pagsubok ngayon sa ating partido kaya ang importante ay manatili po tayong malakas at magtiwala sa liderato ng ating partido sa ilalim ng ating presidente na si Senator Manny Pacquiao. Huwag po tayong mag-alala kasi ang talaga ipinaglalaban namin dito ay yung boses po ng ating mga chapter members a buong bansa,” Pimentel said. —/mbmf

Cusi named president at PDP-Laban national assembly

Maris Federez   •   July 17, 2021

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi

The Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) Cusi-faction on Saturday (July 17) held a national assembly in Clark, Pampanga.

The PDP-Laban national council met on Friday and opened the nominations for a fresh batch of officers.

The national assembly on Saturday morning declared all national positions and committee chairmanship vacant, including the position of Sen. Manny Pacquiao as Party President, as the period of nomination wrapped up.

In the election of new officers on Saturday afternoon, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi emerged as the new party president.

The rest of the new officers is as follows:

  • EVP Carlo Alexei Nograles
  • VP for NCR Edwin Olivarez
  • VP for Luzon Raul Lambino
  • VP for Visayas Ben Evardone
  • VP for Mindanao Charito Plaza
  • National Treasurer Rianne Cuevas
  • Auditor General Christopher Lawrence Go

Committee chairpersons:

  • Membership- Astravel Naik
  • Education- Noel Felongco
  • Finance -Antonio Kho
  • Legal -Richard Nethercot
  • Public Information – Jonathan Malaya
  • Livelihood- Reymar Mansilungan
  • Youth Affairs – Maria Katrina Nicole Contacto

The group of Senator Manny Pacquiao, however, refused to recognize the assembly and labeled the elections illegal.

“Thousands of bona fide and original grassroots members of PDP-Laban strongly denounced personalities (party officials) who are behind the party’s purported national assembly in Clark, Pampanga and described the election of its new officers as a farce, illegal and not sanctioned by the general membership,” the group said in a statement.

In a separate statement, Pacquiao also called out the group of Cusi for prioritizing politics amid the threat of the COVID-19 Delta variant.

“Kung sa tingin nila Cusi at iba pa na mas importante ang pulitika sa ngayon, bahala na sila. Sa huli, isa lang naman ang tanong na dapat sagutin. Sino ba ang sasamahan ng taong bayan?” Pacquiao said.

Senator Koko Pimentel, son of the PDP-Laban co-founder Nene Pimentel, Jr., in another statement, said that the Clark, Pampanga gathering hosted by Sec. Cusi is not recognized by the existing leadership.

“Since Sec Cusi wants to be a stickler for rules then he should follow all the rules of the Party. You cannot make attendees to a PDP-Laban party assembly instant members of the party on the spot! As far as the present PDP-Laban leadership is concerned we will continue to function as the party,” Pimentel said. —/mbmf

Pimentel hopes Comelec will intervene in squabble inside PDP-Laban

Marje Pelayo   •   July 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Koko Pimentel expressed high hopes that the current conflict between two factions inside the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas Ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) will be resolved through the intervention of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

This is if the conflict within the party continues until the submission of sworn information and update statements (SIUS) listing the party’s current members and officers.

“The Comelec should have a procedure na on how to speedy resolve this. Pwede naman silang mag-trace back. Sino ba yung recognize namin na party, PDP-laban. Then step by step,” Pimentel, the party’s Executive Vice-Chairman said.

“Ngayon umatras sila. Doon sa nagke-claim na PDP Laban, umatras sila. Kung sino ngayon yung makaatras dun sa recognize ng Comelec, that should be their first choice,” Pimentel added.

For Senator Pimentel, emerging factions within the party are not new.

In November 2018, the Comelec ruled that Senator Pimentel’s faction is the duly authorized representative of the PDP-Laban against the rival faction led by lawyer Atty. Rogelio Garcia.

The camp of PDP-Laban’s Vice Chairman Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi also expects the poll body to intervene and resolve the conflict.

“Kasi at the end of the day ang aming pagtatalo, sino ba ang magreresolba? Kung magtututuloy-tuloy ang pagtatalo? Ang Comelec,” noted Atty. Melvin Matibag, PDP-Laban’s Acting Secretary-General said.

Comelec’s ruling over the two factions is critical because whoever leads the PDP-Laban signs all documents for submission to the poll body, including the party’s official list of candidates for the 2022 National Elections.

Based on Comelec’s calendar, they have until August 15 to submit their SIUS.

But the faction of Secretary Cusi is determined to resolve the conflicts and prevent any split in the party.

“We will not allow that. Aayusin namin ang PDP-Laban. After the meeting tomorrow, I promise you, we will have a stronger PDP-Laban,” Matibag said.

“There might be legal questions but we have prepared for it in any forum,” he added.

Meanwhile, according to political science expert Professor Dennis Coronacion, if President Rodrigo Duterte suddenly decides to exit the PDP-Laban and join other political parties, his popularity will not be affected.

“Same pa rin yan. Actually kung titingnan natin yung mga political parties naman talaga, they don’t matter sa Philippine politics. They only matter because kinakailangan ng candidate ng affiliation. I think it’s required by the Comelec,” Coronacion said. MNP (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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