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SENATOR Aquilino Pimentel II hinted that there is a plot to get an outsider as the party’s standard bearer for next year’s general elections.

This arose as internal bickering continues to hound the ruling PDP-Laban party.

In his capacity as executive vice chairman of the political party that took President Rodrigo Duterte to Malacañang, Pimentel took a swipe at party vice chairman and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi’s hidden agenda that would ease out legitimate members from being nominated as standard bearers.

Pimentel said that Cusi’s May 31 virtual meeting and the general assembly slated for July were designed to unseat PDP Laban President and Senator Manny Pacquiao, himself a presidential contender.

Pimentel, who wrote the party’s constitution, said the meeting held last May 31 was an “unauthorized and unlawful gathering.”

They kept the president (Pacquiao) unaware of the agenda, so that was my basic question. Why the need for secrecy? Was there a secret agenda being pursued by Secretary Cusi and his group? So a secret agenda is to give the presidential nomination of the party to a party outsider and worse even give the party to another party for it to be devoured, merged and lose its identity. Hindi kami papayag doon kaya we should do this scientifically and step by step,” Pimentel was quoted as saying during the televised interview.

He also said that Cusi should have the guts to make a public pronouncement as to whom they intend to give the party nomination, amid supposed plans to name presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte as its standard bearer.

Interestingly, the Davao mayor is not a member of PDP-Laban and has publicly said that she’s not bent on joining the ruling party.

Both Pacquiao and the presidential daughter are running for President in the 2022 national and local elections.

He also accused Cusi of mass recruitment in the ruling party. Pimentel said that the ruling party has “grew too large, too fast,” adding that there are members who have not even completed their membership requirements yet.

That’s why I told him to do it step by step but they are in a hurry, they did not even involve the party president in the fixing of the agenda, so the question is, is there a secret agenda?,” he reiterated.

As a veteran member of PDP-Laban, Pimentel said he is worried about Cusi’s secret agenda as they have “invested” blood, sweat, and tears with the party.

Bakit kami papayag na ‘yung mga sumali lamang sa time ni President Duterte, 2016, mga baguhan, sinali namin subject to perfection of basic membership requirement, ni hindi nag-exert ng effort to perfect basic membership requirements and now we will allow them to dictate the future direction of the party, ‘di po kami papayag doon,” he said.

Pimentel also said he does not support the resolution adopted by the Cusi-led PDP-Laban national council meeting which urged President Rodrigo Duterte to run for vice president.

He said the resolution was questionable as the process of choosing PDP-Laban’s standard bearer was done the other way around.

The lawmaker explained that it should be the standard bearer who will choose his or her vice president.

But with President Duterte urged to gun for the vice presidency, the PDP-Laban, through the resolution, is allowing the President to choose his standard bearer for the 2022 polls.

On Thursday, Pimentel advised his partymates not to pressure Duterte to run for vice president.

He likewise told his partymates who back possible 2022 presidential bets outside the ruling party should leave as it showed disloyalty.

Para namang walang pagmamahal, walang loyalty, at walang bilib sa sariling party. Kung ganyan na lang, ‘di lumipat ka na lang du’n sa partido na bilib ka or sa partido ng personality na sinusundan mo,” he said.

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