The pro-Duterte faction of the ruling PDP-Laban on Tuesday formally endorsed the presidential candidacy of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who has been leading most surveys with the May 9 elections drawing near.
“It is a decision not by just one person, but by the party when we went through the process based on our constitution and by-laws,” Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, who heads the faction, said in Filipino in a press conference.
The party adopted a resolution endorsing Marcos as the “candidate whose platform is most aligned with the development program of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.”
Cusi said his bloc chose Marcos because his “vision of governance” is most aligned with the PDP-Laban’s 11-point agenda, thus ensuring the continuity of Duterte’s agenda of change.
Acting presidential spokesperson and Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, however, said President Duterte has not seen any compelling reason yet to endorse a presidential candidate.
Andanar said the Cusi announcement was a decision of the party and did not come from the President.
“The decision to endorse Mr. Marcos is clearly a party decision but it is unclear if this is the position of the President, too,” he said.
“Let us just wait for the President to speak about it,” Andanar added.
The Marcos camp welcomed the endorsement from the Cusi faction of the PDP-Laban.
“We deeply appreciate the PDP-Laban’s kind endorsement of presidential frontrunner Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr.
The trust placed in him inspires us beyond measure, for it signals that our message of national unity is gaining ground,” Marcos spokesman Vic Rodriguez said.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, Marcos’ running mate who is the vice presidential candidate of Lakas-CMD, also expressed her appreciation over the PDP-Laban Cusi-faction endorsement.
“The UniTeam is grateful for the endorsement of PDP-Laban of Apo BBM,” she said, referring to Marcos.
Duterte has yet to openly endorse any presidential and vice presidential candidate for the upcoming polls, but the Cusi faction previously said the President would begin campaigning for PDP-Laban bets on Friday, March 25, the official start of the campaign period for local elective posts.
Duterte earlier said he would not support any candidate unless he saw “a compelling reason to do so” in the coming months.
On one occasion, Duterte said it is up to the voters “to choose which Ilocano” would lead the country after his term ends on June 30.
The PDP-Laban has no presidential or vice presidential candidate of its own, after the party splintered into two factions, one supporting the presidential bid of Senator Manny Pacquiao, who is also running for president, and Cusi’s faction, which had pushed for Duterte to run for vice president and asked him to choose his running mate.
These plans fell through, however, when the President opted out of the vice presidential race.
In a message to reporters, Pimentel slammed the latest move by the Cusi faction, saying this proves that they are “total strangers” to the party.
Pimentel, whose father, the late Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., is among PDP-Laban’s founders, said the party was established to fight the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos Sr., Bongbong Marcos’ late father.
“With this latest action from Sec. Cusi and his cohorts, they have manifested that they are total strangers to PDP-Laban.
They don’t even acknowledge that PDP-Laban was established to oppose the Marcos dictatorship,” Pimentel said in a statement Tuesday.
“In Germany for example, a political party formed to oppose Adolf Hitler will definitely not support an Adolf Hitler Jr. That’s just logic,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Pimentel urged the Comelec to dismiss the petition earlier filed by their rival faction, whom he tagged as “usurpers.”
In September 2021, the Cusi-led wing asked the poll body to declare Pimentel and Pacquiao as illegal representatives of the party.
Pacquiao called on “real PDP-Laban” members to ignore the Cusi group’s endorsement, noting that the PDP-Laban was formed to oppose the dictatorial rule of Marcos’s father.
“He might have just forgotten this,” Pacquiao said of Cusi.
While Pacquiao is president of the Pimentel faction of the PDP-Laban, he is running under the PROMDI Party because the Comelec has yet to decide on which bloc represents the party.
According to the Cusi wing resolution, Marcos received the most endorsements from several local councils of PDP Laban, including Ilocos Sur, La Union, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Batangas, Laguna, Quezon, Rizal, Oriental Mindoro, Camarines Norte, Masbate, Aklan, Negros Occidental, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Zamboanga del Sur, Davao del Sur, and North Cotabato.
Other councils from Caloocan City, Malabon City, Mandaluyong City, Pasay City, Paranaque City, San Juan City, Valenzuela City, Malolos City, Ormoc City and San Pedro City also endorsed Marcos.
On Jan. 21, PDP-Laban’s national executive committee announced it would support vice-presidential bet Sara Duterte “based on her credentials, advocacies and vision for our nation” but did not mention who it would support for president.