The Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi has been declared by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as the official wing of the ruling party.
With a vote of 2 to 1, the Comelec Special Second Division chaired by Comelec Commissioner Socorro B. Inting decided in favor of Cusi’s group.
Those who voted in favor of the Cusi faction were Inting and Comelec Commissioner Rey E. Bulay, while Marlon S. Casquejo dissented from the majority decision.
It recognized the following PDP-Laban officials as the official officers of the political party: Rodrigo R. Duterte (chairman); Alfonso G. Cusi (president); Karlo Alexei Nograles (executive vice president); Edwin Olivarez (vice president for the National Capital Region); Raul Lambino (vice president for Luzon); Ben Evardone (vice president for Visayas); Charito Plaza (vice president for Mindanao).
Also included in Comelec’s PDP-Laban recognized officials are Melvin Matibag (secretary-general); Rianne Cuevas (national treasurer); Christopher Lawrence Go; Astravel Pimentel-Naik (membership committee); Noel Felongco (education committee); Antonio Kho (finance committee); Richard Nethercott (legal affairs and arbitration committee); Jonathan Malaya (public information committee); Reymar Mansilungan (livelihood committee); and Maria Katrina Nicole Contacto (youth affairs committee).
In a promulgated Thursday, the Comelec Special Second Division recognized the national assembly held by Cusi on July 17, 2021, which ousted Senator Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao as president of PDP-Laban.
The participants of the said assembly then picked Cusi as the new president of PDP-Laban.
Pacquiao questioned the validity of the said assembly.
The Comelec Special Second Division, however, recognized the assembly as duly constituted and binding to all members of PDP-Laban “since the necessary notice and quorum were fulfilled.”
Furthermore, it noted that the PDP-Laban chairman, President Rodrigo R. Duterte, presided over the election in the said assembly.
“The fact that he [Duterte] presided over the elections of the new sets of party officers and committee chairperson validates the entire process, making the above-enumerated officers as duly elected offices of PDP-Laban,” the Special Division said.
It also voided the resolutions issued by Pacquiao’s faction as well as the National Assembly it held on September 19, 2021.
The decision stemmed from the petition filed by Cusi’s camp last September, which asked Comelec to declare Pacquiao’s group as illegal representatives of PDP-Laban.
Now officially recognized as the official leadership of PDP-Laban, Cusi’s faction will now be entitled to 5th copy of the election returns, and 7th copy of the certificates of canvass for being the Dominant Majority political party for the 2022 polls.
Comelec Commissioner George M. Garcia said it would be prioritized in the deployment of its election watchers in voting centers.
As for Pacquiao’s group, he said they would no longer get any copies of the election returns for the 2022 elections.
Garcia explained he was initially part of the regular Comelec Division, which handled the case, but he inhibited from it, which resulted into a deadlock with Casquejo voting against the Cusi faction and Bulay voting in favor of the said faction.
“A special member was appointed to break the tie. It was Commissioner Inting. She sided with Commissioner Bulay,” Garcia said.
“The original ponencia of the Commissioner Marlon was lost. He became the dissenter of the new majority decision,” he added.