Cusi-led PDP-Laban faction endorses Bong Go-Rodrigo Duterte tandem for 2022

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A faction within the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) has endorsed Senator Bong Go as the ruling party's standard bearer in the 2022 elections. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 5)— A faction within the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) has endorsed Senator Bong Go as the ruling party's standard bearer in the 2022 elections.

PDP-Laban elected president Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi confirmed to CNN Philippines on Thursday that his group wants Go to run in next year's presidential polls, with party chairman President Rodrigo Duterte as his running mate.

"In our PDP national council meeting yesterday, it was agreed to present to the forthcoming national convention the Go-Duterte tandem," Cusi said in a text message.

But the party's secretary-general Melvin Matibag clarified the pair is not yet PDP-Laban's official candidates, adding it will still be tackled in another national assembly on September 8.

"Not yet final but they [are] the logical and popular choice of the huge majority members of PDP-Laban," Matibag said.

Go, also PDP-Laban's auditor general, said he should be the last choice for president, while there is no final word from Duterte if he will heed the call for him to run for vice president.

He added he leaves his fate to the President, as well as presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, who's also pondering on a presidential bid.

It can be recalled that last month, the chief executive told the public in a speech to "consider" him a candidate for the vice presidential post.

New set of officers

The Cusi-led faction also submitted to the Commission on Elections a list of the ruling party's newly elected officers.

The list indicated the officials appointed during PDP-Laban's July 17 national assembly, which the faction headed by Senators Manny Pacquiao and Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III does not recognize.

The required document, called the Sworn Information Update Statement, was sent to the poll body on Wednesday. It was signed by both Cusi and Duterte.

READ: Cusi named as new PDP-Laban president in Duterte-led assembly; Pacquiao faction questions legality

Pacquiao's camp said they will also submit their own set of officers to the Comelec. When that happens, the poll body will have to decide which one is legitimate, based on which group followed the party constitution and bylaws.

In a statement, Pimentel hit the Cusi wing for making the move amid the surge in COVID-19 cases. He said "politics should take a back seat" in order for the government to focus on the pandemic response.

Pacquiao 'strongest' senatorial bet?

The elected national officers of the ruling party may not want Pacquiao as standard bearer, but they believe the boxer-turned-lawmaker would make a formidable senatorial candidate.

"We are considering Senator Manny Pacquiao as the strongest candidate for our senatorial lineup," Matibag said in a separate media forum on Friday.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Eimor Santos contributed to this report.