Duterte, Pacquiao vie for Philippine ruling party’s control

Bangkok, Aug 30 (EFE).- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and ex-world boxing champion compatriot Manny Pacquiao, former allies, face each other for control of the country’s ruling party before next year’s presidential elections.

The faction loyal to Pacquiao in the ruling Philippine Democratic Party-Power of the People replaced Duterte as leader of the formation Sunday and expelled three of his allies, a decision the outgoing president’s group called a “comedy.”

The party split is visible on the internet, where its website still shows Duterte’s photo as the leader (chairman), while the formation’s social networks are in the hands of Pacquiao’s side.

“[The party] appoints Senator Koko Pimentel as leader of the National Council,” can be read in the profile of the formation on Facebook.

The party’s Twitter account shared an article advocating for Pacquiao to be the next presidential candidate in the elections scheduled for May.

The party’s Secretary-General Melvin Matibag, from Duterte’s side, said Pimentel “has no position in [the party]. He is irrelevant and does not represent the party.”

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is the president of the [party]. He is now and will continue to be,” Matibag said in a statement published by the country’s Philippine News Agency.

Duterte, who won the election in 2016 and has been controversial for his bloody war on drugs, announced last week that he would run for vice president.

Many analysts predict his daughter Sara, current mayor of Davao, will run as a presidential candidate in the country, where presidents cannot by law stand for reelection.

Pacquiao, a senator since 2016, was a collaborator and partner of Duterte until June after he criticized the president for his policy with Beijing in the disputed waters of the South China Sea and a month later denounced alleged corruption cases in the Covid-19 aid program.

Pacquiao was then replaced as the party’s executive president in July by Energy Minister Alfonso Cusi.

The boxer’s faction has reinstated him as president and expelled Cusi and two of his collaborators.

The solution to the dispute over leadership will depend on the Electoral Commission’s decision. EFE


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