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Without Pacquiao, Duterte Doesn't Make PDP-Laban Meeting Right: Pimentel

Party president must be involved, senator says.
by Erwin Colcol
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Photo/s: Presidential Photo
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Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III on Thursday said the PDP-Laban national assembly to be held on July 17 will remain invalid even if President Rodrigo Duterte as the party chairman would preside over it.

Pimentel, who serves as PDP-Laban executive chairman, said that according to the party's constitution which he authored, even meetings that the party chairman would lead should be organized in coordination with the party president, in this case Sen. Manny Pacquiao.

Pacquiao will skip the meeting for a boxing match in the U.S. after weeks of testy exchanges with Duterte on alleged corruption in government and Manila's China policy.

"The most critical officer of the party is the party president. Dapat walang mangyari concerning the party na hindi alam ng party president," Pimentel told CNN Philippines in an interview.

"Kaya nga even the fixing of the agenda in meetings where the party president is not to preside because the chairman is to preside, the party president must be part of fixing the agenda," he said.

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PDP-Laban deputy secretary general Melvin Matibag earlier said Duterte would preside over the party's national assembly in Clark, Pampanga on Saturday, where they are expected to discuss their preparations for the 2022 elections.

An election will also be held during the meeting, according to the party's vice chairman Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi.

Pacquiao's camp and Pimentel, however, said they would not attend the meeting for being an "unauthorized" activity. They also called on their partymates to skip the gathering and instead come to another national assembly they have set for September.

Pimentel said PDP-Laban is a party of rules and ideologies, not of personalities. He recognized that Duterte is a "very charismatic" person with a large following, but party rules must still be observed.

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"There are rules to follow. So [even] if the most popular person in the party will attend the meeting which we have not recognized, it does not change the fact that we still do not recognize that meeting. The defects and the violation from the start are still there," he said.

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Despite their earlier announcement, Cusi urged Pacquiao's camp to attend the July 17 meeting, saying that it was the opportunity for them to sort out the issues within the party. The fighting senator is now in the U.S. to prepare for his upcoming match with Errol Spence Jr.

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