Malacanang reproached critics from the ruling political party PDP-Laban who are opposed to a vice presidential bid by President Rodrigo Duterte in next year’s polls, saying the party will not be as formidable as it is now without the help of the chief executive.
“PDP-Laban was a small party until the President joined them. Their party members could only fill a jeepney before the President came along,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in an online press briefing.
The PDP-Laban became a political powerhouse in 2016 when Duterte, then Davao mayor, was fielded as its standard bearer.
Roque also said the Palace recognizes the leadership of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi as the party’s vice chairman despite being ousted by party members led by Senator Manny Pacquiao.
Duterte is set to attend the Cusi-organized meeting of the PDP-Laban Cusi wing on July 17.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III and Pacquiao, acting president, consistently said they would not attend the assembly, saying it was an “unauthorized” gathering.
The Pacquiao-led group will hold a separate assembly in September.
“July 17, that is the national assembly. The national assembly will be presided by the president, the chairman of the party, President Rodrigo Duterte. There are personalities who will attend,” PDP-Laban deputy secretary general Melvin Matibag said in a virtual press conference.
Matibag said the event would be subjected to security protocols implemented by the Presidential Security Group.
Members of PDP-Laban who were present during the Palace meeting were those who are pushing for Duterte to run for vice president under PDP-Laban.