THE Partido Demokratikong Pilipino Laban ng Bayan (PDP- Laban) on Sunday declared Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao standard-bearer for the 2022 national elections, with party chairman Sen. Koko Pimentel declaring their bid to “fight back against the hijackers,” referring to the faction of the ruling party led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

In accepting the nomination, Pacquiao said, in Filipino that he dedicated “this day to our countrymen who seek real change,” adding, “With courage and humility I trust in your support. I accept your nomination” as the party’s presidential candidate.

As announced earlier by party chairman Sen. Koko Pimentel, the party assembly will not pick a vice-presidential candidate but leave it to Pacquiao to choose his running mate.

In a national assembly held just days before a Comelec-mandated deadline for all registered parties, Pimentel said thousands of grassroots members in chapters across the regions, along with partner organizations are determined to keep the original spirit of the party founders.

“Today we will formally fight back against the hijackers. We will not allow the party to be hijacked. We have been ignoring them but resisting them,” stressed Pimentel in his opening remarks, and likened the latecomers to the party to hitchhikers who so enjoyed the ride they are now wresting the car from the true owners.

Pimentel noted that, despite the sheer logistical difficulty of bringing together thousands of members while respecting health protocols, the PDP Laban mounted the assembly, which he called a “constitutionally protected political gathering.”

Pacquiao’s nomination as PDP-Laban bet for president in the May 2022 polls was widely expected and comes days after the Cusi wing declared its own tandem–Sen. Bong Go as president and President Duterte as his running mate. Duterte accepted the nomination, but Go has declined.

The party gave Pacquiao a free hand in choosing his running mate. Pimentel earlier explained it was crucial to ensure the two nominees had “chemistry,” because it did not make sense to have two top leaders to be not on good terms.

Besides PDP Laban members, the gathering was participated in by various regional and national organizations.

Also in attendance — physically — was Deputy Speaker Lito Atienza, a long-time friend of Pacquiao whom the boxing icon has considered a trusted mentor.

Cusi group issues CONA to bets

The Pimentel-led National Assembly came a day after the so-called Cusi wing of PDP Laban announced it has started issuing Certificates of Nomination and Acceptance (CONA) to their official candidates in the 2022 national elections.

“As we have promised our party mates during our national convention on 08 September in Pampanga, we will be processing their CONA as soon as possible to enable them to file their certificate of candidacy (COC) within the deadline specified by the Commission on Elections,” said PDP Laban Secretary-General Atty. Melvin Matibag on Saturday (Sept. 18).

The Comelec will start accepting COCs from  October 1 to 8, 2021.

During its convention, the Cusi wing said PDP Laban unanimously adopted Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go as their official candidate for President, with President Duterte as his vice-presidential running mate. President Duterte has accepted the nomination, but Go has declined.

Matibag said the CONA is important because only candidates with valid CONA are considered official candidates of their respective political party or coalition otherwise, they will be considered merely as independent candidates.

Under Comelec Resolution No. 10717 promulgated on  August 18, 2021, the CONA is valid if signed by authorized signatories, including the Chairperson, President, or Secretary-General of the concerned political party or coalition.

Last September 7, the PDP Laban wing led by Alfonso Cusi, as president, filed a petition asking Comelec to declare the group led by Senators Pacquiao and Pimentel as illegitimate.

Pacquiao’s group earlier said it ousted Cusi, Matibag and even President Duterte from their respective positions in the ruling party.

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