(UPDATE) President Rodrigo Duterte's PDP-Laban party, established to oppose the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos Sr.'s dictatorship, is endorsing the presidential candidacy of Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., its officials announced on Tuesday.
The party's National Executive Committee led by Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi issued a resolution formally endorsing the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. for president.
“Senator Bongbong Marcos is the candidate whose platform is most aligned with the development program of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” read the resolution shared with reporters.
“He is the candidate whose vision of governance is most aligned with PDP Laban's 11-point agenda,” it added.
The party earlier endorsed the vice presidential candidacy of Duterte’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is also Marcos’ running mate.
Vic Rodriguez, Marcos’ spokesperson, thanked PDP-Laban for its endorsement, saying that its trust “inspires us beyond measure, for it signals that our message of national unity is gaining ground.”
“We thank PDP-Laban for joining the crescendoing chorus of national unification as we call on our supporters not to blink, not yet, for victory may only be claimed when votes have already been cast and every ballot counted on election day,” he added.
Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, the son of PDP-Laban's founder former Sen. Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr., criticized the faction's endorsement. Cusi and Pimentel's group have been at odds since last year over the issue of party leadership.
"With this latest action from Sec. Cusi and his cohorts, they have manifested that they are total strangers to PDP-Laban. They don’t even acknowledge that PDP-Laban was established to oppose the Marcos dictatorship. Time for Comelec to dismiss the petition of these usurpers!" Pimentel said.
PDP-Laban under Cusi was left with no official standard bearer for the 2022 elections after its original bets, Senators Ronald Dela Rosa and Bong Go, withdrew their candidacies for president and vice president, respectively.
Go eventually decided to run for president under the Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan, which signed a coalition with PDP-Laban, only to drop out from the race entirely.
Duterte himself has yet to name who he will endorse for the May 9 elections, although he previously said a lawyer is an ideal president. Of the 10 official candidates for president, only Vice President Leni Robredo and Jose Montemayor Jr. are lawyers.
Asked if PDP-Laban's endorsement will also be of the president, Cusi said: "It's best that that question is answered by the Office of the President."
Ahead of the start of the campaign period last month, Duterte said he could still endorse a presidential candidate if he sees that it's needed.
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