PDP-Laban circus leaves Manny Pacquiao a political orphan, possibly split Duterte admin camp

Where will Senator Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao, the political Peter Pan land in the aftermath of the PDP-Laban national assembly on July 17 where his ouster is certain? Definitely not the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) of former Vice President Jejomar Binay. If he’s not able to mend his rift with President Rodrigo Duterte then in all probability he will end up with the Reporma of Congressman Bebot Alvarez. Lito Banayo, writing for the Manila Standard, describes the situation as “Messy”.

It all began when Sen. Koko Pimentel, son of the party’s founder, decided to relinquish his presidency in late 2019. He transferred the leadership, akin to a CEO where the chairman hardly involves himself in day-to-day affairs, to his fellow senator, Manny Pacquiao.

It just so happens that the chairman of the party is no less than the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who has been an on-and-off member or a local ally of the PDP-Laban, his Davao City-based political party at times in alliance with the party of Koko’s father, the late Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel.

The sidebar to the election is the grudge match between Inday Sara “Daughterte” and Bebot. In 2019, Alvarez defeated all of Daughterte’s candidates under Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP). While there was no reaction from the Presidential daughter, she does not take defeat very well. Alvarez’s “We Need A Leader” movement didn’t really takeoff as planned because it was poorly organized after it was overtaken by the onset of the pandemic. According to a source, there is supposed to be a meeting this week between Alvarez and candidates who are looking at a Presidential run.

There are other realignments which are under negotiation now that Congress is in recess until it reopens with the President’s last State of the Nation Address (SONA). There is the PDP-Laban national assembly on July 17. By then, the fates of Senators Pacquiao and Koko Pimentel will be known. Both may be ousted which leaves the President in control of PDP-Laban or worse, it splits into two factions which presents a problem similar to what the Liberal Party went through when Mar Roxas initiated the process of consolidation for his 2010 Presidential run.

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After July, there are only three months left before the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy in October. There is a lot of work to be done in terms of finalizing Senatorial lineups and alliances at the regional and local level with the political kingpins. By September, we should have a clear picture of who will be the protagonists for the national posts. The political temperature will continue to rise until the last two weeks before election day on May 2022.

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