Sen. Manny Pacquiao said Thursday he would welcome talks to unite the ruling PDP-Laban factions, especially after his party mate, Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, announced his withdrawal from the presidential race.
“What I want is to unite the PDP. Hindi dapat kami magkakaiba ng adbokasiya (We should have the same advocacy),” said Pacquiao, who filed his candidacy under Cebu-based PROMDI Party after a conflict with other PDP-Laban officials led by Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi erupted several months ago over the party’s 2022 presidential bet.
Cusi leads one faction supported by President Rodrigo Duterte, while Pacquiao and Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, son of the party’s co-founder, the late Sen. Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., lead the other.
The Cusi group had endorsed the presidential bid of Go, Duterte’s longtime aide.
But while Pacquiao is open to holding unification talks for the party, he said he will only entertain those on the condition that Cusi will no longer have anything to do with the party.
“We should remove Cusi because he drags everybody down. We have problems with energy, yet he continues to engage in politicking. He should find ways to solve problems and bring down electricity rates instead of dipping into politics,” the retired boxing legend said.
Melvin Matibag of the Cusi wing said Pacquiao’s statement “is clearly misplaced and not properly thought out” as, according to him, the Energy Secretary was elected party president under the guidance of Duterte, their chairman.
“Senator Pacquiao must focus on the strength of his candidacy rather than trying to pick a fight with a non-candidate,” Matibag said.
For the Pacquiao-Pimentel wing, the party’s chairman is the latter, while the former is president.
The battle for control of the party has reached the Commission on Elections, but is yet to be resolved.
Meanwhile, Pacquiao reiterated his campaign against corruption, saying that aside from building a mega-prison for corrupt officials, he would also create special courts that will focus on handling corruption cases.
These special courts will be assigned with their own prosecutors and judges and would be given three to six months to decide on cases.
“Corruption is a crime in our country. Corruption cases should be resolved in three to six months so we can throw the corrupt to jail,” he said.
Pacquiao went around General Santos City and Sarangani Province on a motorcade during the day.
He went to the Pacific Bay College multi-purpose gymnasium to distribute relief packs and P1,000 cash for more than 600 fire victims in Purok Saeg, Brgy. Calumpang.
He also attended the birthday celebration of former Mayor Tata Yap in the town of Glan.