Malacañang on Wednesday belittled the idea raised by a faction in the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) that President Rodrigo Duterte could get expelled if he attends the July 17 assembly organized by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the PDP-Laban faction is free to do whatever they want, but reminded them that the ruling party only gained more members after Duterte, who chairs the party, won as president.
“What they want to do is up to them. If the President decides to run as vice president, no matter what party, even without a party, he can still run,” he said partly in Filipino in a Palace press briefing.
Roque pointed out that PDP-Laban only had few members prior to Duterte winning the country’s top post.
“I will say it again, PDP-Laban is composed only of a jeepney before President Duterte joined it. If you will expel the President, you will be back to one jeepney,” he said partly in Filipino.
On Monday, Roque confirmed that Duterte will be attending the Cusi-led assembly in Clark, Pampanga on July 17.
PDP-Laban National Education Committee Chair Rufina “Pines” Arcega earlier said many of her colleagues do not agree with Duterte running for vice president in the 2022 national elections.
If that were to happen, she said Duterte could be removed from the party.
Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, whose family was one of the founders of the party, on Tuesday called on his party mates to ignore the July 17 assembly organized by Cusi.
Cusi was kicked out from the party for allegedly violating rules over his alleged support for Duterte’s vice presidential bid.
Conflict in the PDP-Laban factions started after Cusi and Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao disagreed over the former’s support for Duterte’s candidacy as vice president.
Duterte earlier implied that Pacquiao’s corruption allegations stemmed from the fact that he was impatient to be named as the presidential bet their party.
Meanwhile, Roque welcomed the possibility of Senator Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III and running in tandem for president and vice president, respectively in the 2022 elections.
“The people should have other choices,” he said partly in Filipino.
Lacson and Sotto are planning to officially announce their candidacies for the upcoming elections on August 5.The two senators are currently embarking on a consultative tour around Luzon and meeting with different local officials.