MANILA, Philippines – A faction in the ruling PDP-Laban held elections for new leaders in what party president Senator Aquilino Pimentel III called an “unauthorized” national assembly.
Around 300 people joined the “11th National Assembly” on Friday, July 27, at the Amoranto Stadium in Quezon City. Many of the attendees, however, are not party members and do not know the people on stage.
Around the venue, Rappler saw at least 20 tourist buses that ferried the participants from Bulacan, Laguna, Cavite, and other parts of Metro Manila.
Photo by Camille Elemia/Rappeler
Willy Talag, president of PDP-Laban Makati City council and chair of the membership committee of the National Capital Region chapter, alleged that Pimentel, former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, and other party leaders committed “violations” against the PDP-Laban Charter.
These include the conduct of mass oath taking of new members “without proper basic seminar” and officials “involved in illegal drugs.” They also questioned why there were no assemblies and elections held, when the party constitution supposedly requires it every two years.
Rogelio Garcia, PDP-Laban national council chair, was elected as president to replace Pimentel. Alvarez was replaced by Talag, who claimed he had been with the party for at least “4 years” now. It was found, however, that Talag ran for Makati City 1st District representative in 2016 under the Nationalist People’s Coalition but lost.
Abbin Dalhani is the new executive vice president. Cesar Cuntapay, who said he was a co-founder of the party, also joined the event and slammed Pimentel and Alvarez for pushing their supposed “selfish interests.”
"He did not listen to the plea of the members and officers of the party. He speaks without listening, answers without hearing," said Cuntapay, who was earlier expelled from the party last year because of what Pimentel called "disloyalty and acts inimical to the party."
The faction also elected Special Assistant to the President Bong Go as auditor, a position he held under the Pimentel leadership. Talag claimed Go submitted his certificate of candidacy last night but Rappler has yet to get a confirmation from President Rodrigo Duterte's closest aide as of posting.
' Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler
Pimentel strongly disowned the group and the assembly, saying it is led by “expelled rogue members” of the party.
“They are rogue members who will be dealt with in accordance to party rules. We have already expelled some of them and after a thorough investigation will expel a few more. The others no need to expel because they aren’t legitimate party members. Because may process and pagsali sa partido, and karamihan diyan di nakumpleto ang proseso (There's a process to join the party, and most of them did not complete the process),” Pimentel’s PDP-Laban said.
Cuntapay and other members, however, refused to admit they were expelled from the party and insisted they were looking out for PDP-Laban’s interest.
“Walang expelled dito…..Kagustuhan ito ng taumbayan at mandate sa by-laws,” (There are no expelled members here. This is the desire of the people and mandated in our by-laws)," Talag told reporters.
“Nagkaisa po ang regional council na ang ating pamunuan po ay ayusin po ng national assembly….Lahat ay notified dito at napublish sa diyaryo….Kahit po si tatay Nene (Aquilino Pimentel Jr) ay alam niya po na ang magaganap ay ayon sa constitution at by-laws," he added.
(The regional councils have decided to hold this national assembly. The others were notified about this and tis was also published in newspapers. Even Senator Nene [Pimentel] knows about this.) – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org