MANILA – Sen. Francis Tolentino on Tuesday said the PDP-Laban faction led by Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi should reach out to Senators Manny Pacquiao and Aquilino Pimentel III, the erstwhile leaders of the political party.
Pacquiao and Pimentel were removed as PDP-Laban’s president and executive vice-chairman in a national assembly called by Cusi, who was previously expelled as the party’s vice chairman. Cusi was since elected president of PDP-Laban.
“The right approach here probably would be for the new leadership to reach out to Senators Pacquiao and Pimentel. They’re still members, they were not expelled,” Tolentino told ANC’s Headstart.
“They’re still members of PDP-Laban, so as I have said before, there is no Pacquiao wing or Cusi wing because for me, PDP-Laban is like a bird, and a bird, like a plane, cannot fly with just a single wing,” he said.
Pacquiao and Pimentel’s group said it does not recognize the “purported” assembly at Royce Hotel and Casino in Clark, Pampanga last Saturday. The gathering was attended by President Rodrigo Duterte, who backed the Cusi camp.
But for Tolentino, who was virtually present during the meeting, if the rift within the party is brought before the Commission on Elections or even the Supreme Court, the latest vote that put new party officers in power would be recognized because “the procedure was followed.”
“The members of the national assembly, the national council were there to validate the existence of quorum…I don’t see any reason insofar as the legitimacy is concerned,” he said.
Yet, he believes that “before the elections, we will have 1 PDP-Laban.”
Tolentino said while he is not privy to any internal communications, he thinks Duterte, the party chairman, is “open to any discussion, especially if it affects not just the 2022 elections, but the future of the country as well.”
He said after Pacquiao’s boxing fight in August 21, “there can be room for healing.”
“So the proper attitude right now should be to simmer down. All those talking should stop…There should be a ceasefire on this, let the process evolve,” he said.