A faction of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan led by Senator Manny Pacquiao has elected a new party chairman, ousting President Rodrigo Duterte.
In a message to reporters Sunday, PDP-Laban executive director Ron Munsayac said Senator Koko Pimentel has replaced Duterte.
“Sen. Pimentel is new Chairman, former Gov. Barbo is new Vice Chairman,” said Munsayac.
Former Eastern Samar governor Lutgardo Barbo, the party’s erstwhile Visayas vice president, takes over the role of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, who was named president of the Duterte-led faction during a national assembly in July.
Munsayac added that the new positions were effective immediately and that an official statement would be released within the day.
Melvin Matibag, the secretary general of the PDP-Laban faction headed by Cusi, belittled the development saying, “comedy naman ‘yan.”
The Cusi wing has yet to issue an official statement.
Following the rift in the party, the Commission on Elections will decide which PDP-Laban group is legitimate based on the party’s constitution and bylaws.
Last week, Duterte accepted his faction’s endorsement to run for vice president in the coming polls, saying he “agreed to make the sacrifice and heed the clamor of the people.”
However, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte would step aside to give way to his daughter if Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte decides to run for the highest office next year.
In a statement on Wednesday, Mayor Duterte urged her father and his supposed running mate, Senator Bong Go, to “own up” publicly about their decision to run as a tandem after her father “personally confirmed” to her his plan in next year’s polls.
Reporting by Nadine Castro