Duterte's attendance will not legitimize upcoming PDP-Laban assembly - Pimentel

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 15) — The upcoming PDP-Laban assembly on Saturday will still be considered invalid even with the presence of President Rodrigo Duterte, the party chairman and "the most popular" person in the group, Sen. Aquiliono "Koko" Pimentel III warned onThursday.

"If the most popular person in the party will attend, a meeting which we have not recognized, it does not change the fact that we still do not recognize that meeting," Pimentel told CNN Philippines' The Source.

"The violation and the defects from the start are still there," he added.

Pimentel, the son of the party's co-founder, Sen. Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr., said that national council meeting, which will also be held on Friday, is not authorized either.

Pimentel noted that the PDP-Laban activities which will be held by the faction led by ousted party vice chairman Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi is still "clearly violative" of the party's constitution, especially since party president Sen. Manny Pacquiao was not involved in the agenda.

The upcoming activities will include discussion of committee reports and election of the party's new set of officers.

Pimentel also expressed confidence that Duterte's attendance will not weaken the faction led by him and Pacquiao, as this was already evident in the ongoing "word war" between the two leaders.

The senator added that PDP-Laban is a party of ideology and not based on personalities.

"Hindi po kami (we are not) personality-based," he said. "Our chairman happens to be the President of the Republic of the Philippines, a very charismatic person with very huge following and very popular, so those are facts about him."

"Pero pagdating sa partido (But when it comes to the party), when you call for a meeting, you do not keep the party president blind of the details of the event," Pimentel added.

Malacañang earlier stressed that Duterte continues to recognize the leadership of Cusi despite his expulsion brought by the widening rift within the ruling party.

READ: Pacquiao-led faction expels Cusi, 2 others from PDP-Laban 

Pacquiao is among those being floated as a presidential candidate in next year's polls. The boxer-turned-politician was caught in a word war with the President after claiming that corruption in the government is two or three times worse in the present administration.

He also criticized the President over his alleged soft stance on the West Philippine Sea.

In a May 31 assembly boycotted by Pacquiao, the Cusi-led faction adopted a resolution pushing for Duterte to run for vice president next year and allowing him to choose his running mate in the 2022 polls.