Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon predicted that Sen. Manny Pacquiao would likely be deposed as president of the ruling PDP-Laban party mere months before the filing of candidacy amid the deepening infighting.
“I will not be surprised if Sen. Pacquiao will wake up one day in July and he is no longer the acting president of PDP-Laban,” Drilon, Liberal Party (LP) vice chair, told online forum Kapihan sa Manila Bay on Wednesday (June 30).
Drilon said that the president’s order to Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, party vice chairman, to hold a national assembly in defiance of Pacquiao’s camp signalled a possible ouster. “The signal is the President told Secretary [Alfonso] Cusi to go ahead and convene that committee meeting in Cebu last month,” he said.
Duterte threatened to expose Pacquiao as a "liar" earlier this week after the boxer-turned-senator alleged that corruption has intensified under the current administration.
The senator responded to the president's threat by recalling Duterte’s earlier claim that corruption in the government was “growing stronger.”
In a statement, Pacquiao also denied that he was attacking Duterte, clarifying that he was only trying to help the administration's anti-corruption drive.
Meanwhile, Senate President Vicente Sotto III took Pacquiao's side, questioning why the president's camp took offense over the boxer-senator's comment.
Drilon noted that it was not unlikely for ruling parties to "split into two" months before national elections, recalling a similar incident that occurred during former President Corazon Aquino's administration.
Political parties fielding presidential candidates, he added, will have to put in "a lot of work" to capitalize on the emerging rift within the PDP-Laban.
Drilon stressed that the opposition must field a single candidate for president. However, the senator did say that LP is open to alliances and discussions. When asked if the LP would welcome Pacquiao if he were to lose his position in the ruling party, he said: “Our concentration in the party [Liberal Party] today is to prepare for the eventuality that Leni Robredo runs for president. Kapag hindi siya tumakbo (If she does not run)… we are open to alliances, we are open to discussions”
While he said that “anything can happen” when it comes to his party opening its doors for Pacquiao, Drilon emphasized that the opposition party still stands for “certain principles and platforms.”
Ana Catalina Paje is a development journalist passionate about grassroots communication geared towards genuine social change. She also writes about showbiz, lifestyle, and all things Pinoy pride. The views expressed are her own.
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