Monday, June 14, 2021

Malilong: Pacquiao for President

The Other Side

That was a vicious hook the Bulacan chapter of the PDP-Laban threw last week at Manny Pacquiao, boxing icon, senator of the Republic and the ruling party’s president.

The chapter, one of the many spread all over the country to accommodate the turncoats who took shelter in the administration’s camp in 2016, demanded during a “consultative meeting” on May 7 that Pacquiao explain why he should not be punished for publicly claiming that President Duterte’s handling of the West Philippine Sea issue and the Covid-19 pandemic was lacking when he has gone “thru official party channels.”

Strangely, the chapter did exactly what it accused Pacquiao of doing, sending a press statement to the government-owned Philippine News Agency to make sure that its censure of Pacquiao received nationwide publicity. The irony did not escape the attention of the party’s Executive Director Ron Munsayac who invoked the same process of having to go through party channels when issuing public statements, especially if they are “detrimental to the interest of the party and its general membership.”

This is the second time that Pacquiao’s authority as party president has been challenged. Early last March, another “consultative meeting” was held in Manila during which the party’s leaders who were invited and attended, agreed to urge Duterte to run for vice president in next year’s elections. Pacquiao was not aware of the meeting so when he learned that a petition was being circulated urging Duterte to run, he angrily declared that it was “not authorized” and “not sanctioned.”

It turned out that it was Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi who was circulating the petition for signature by local party leaders. The Department of Energy is historically one of the least politicized in the Cabinet so it would have been surprising to see Cusi actively engaging in partisan activity if not for the fact that he is a PDP-Laban official and a friend of Sen. Bong Go.

And why is Go’s name worth mentioning here? Because he is widely believed to be the unnamed presidential candidate with whom Duterte was urged to run by the Manila consultative assembly. The ticket would be hard to beat if it takes form, something that Pacquiao, who is also believed to harbor presidential ambitions, is acutely aware of.

One therefore cannot help but wonder if Go’s friend Cusi had a hand in the censure Pacquiao resolution passed by the Bulacan chapter last week. That municipal mayors would gather on their own to scold their party president simply strains the imagination. Someone goaded and guided them in doing it and that is a role that has been shown to be tailored for Cusi.

When Pacquiao scolded his party mates for blindsiding him with the Duterte for vice president resolution, neutral observers said that the party was rocked by discord. It would be interesting to find out how they view this recent development that originated in the historic town of Malolos.

Pacquiao is angling for the presidency but it is obvious that he is not the favored one among the members of Duterte’s inner political circle. Go is the one if he decides to take on the challenge with Duterte by his side. So where goes Pacquiao in that event?

The situation is still fluid in both the administration and main opposition camps as of now and it is not going to change until perhaps two months from now. I have long stopped crystal gazing because of my very poor record with it but this early, it is easy to declare that there will be three major candidates for president in 2022. You, of course, know who they are.


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