In the political ring, Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao faces a reality far different from the brawl he knows so well. The first jab came as news that Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) vice chair and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi called for a national assembly for partymates on May 31. The champ pugilist sent a counter-punch with a letter dated May 25, 2021, advising his partymates to ignore Cusi’s invitation.
He said it was not “sanctioned by Authorized National Council officials and violates Section 4 and Section 5, Article XVI, Constitution of the PDP-Laban. Any call for a national council, assembly, or meeting must be approved by both the Chairman and the President only.”
On May 31, though, the party’s acting president gets the phantom punch as Cusi’s call materialized in Cebu, with most of the party’s key names in attendance. “This is not the time for politics,” Pacquiao had said in his letter. Well, the affront had been cocked all along like a finishing punch in the breadbasket.
Whether or not Pacquiao, who has been behaving doggedly for a Presidential bid, staggered dizzy from Monday’s assembly is something to look into in the coming days. Will the fighter bow out? Will he contest legally the Cusi coup.
So what emerged in the council meeting? The PDP-Laban members in the Cebu assembly is urging President Rodrigo Duterte to run for the Office of the Vice President and would leave it to the chief executive to pick his choice of successor in Malacañang.
With Duterte still at the helm of power after 2022, government can continue to push for the “10-Point Socioeconomic Agenda,” made more crucial now in the pandemic, said the party resolution. If the President denies the partymates’ call, the party will convene and will have to select its presidential and vice presidential bets, including its senatorial slate, said vice president for international affairs Raul Lambino. The party, however, emphasized that the President may have the option to pick anyone outside of the party as presidential bet.
This affront to acting party president Pacquiao may have implications on whether it creates a deep fissure or not in the party, but that will be known soon. The senator still holds his own brand of appeal to the masses, with his rags-to-riches story, coupled with his widely publicized acts of generousity in the right places.
Already, at this point, the opposition reacted with disgust over the PDP-Laban’s urging of the President to run for the vice presidency in 2022.
1Sambayan convenor Howard Calleja said: “The Alleged VP run of the President not only makes a mockery of the constitution but a joke of the worst kind. It is laughable and the height of impertinence to the Filipino people.”
Calleja said the Filipino people won’t miss this move as a “macrocosm of the Davao formula,” to keep Duterte’s “authoritarian brand of failed leadership and traitorous allegiance to China.”
These recent movements certainly tip the political scale and begin a momentum into the more vigorous game towards 2022. We hope, however, that while the faces begin to figure in the scheme of things, a more concrete discussion of issues—especially concerning the pandemic and economic recovery—will also commence.