Duterte’s VP bid might be to ‘untangle’ self from ICC probe, PDP-Laban official says

July 7, 2021 - 4:51 PM
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President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on July 6, 2021. (Presidential photo/Ace Morandante)

President Rodrigo Duterte‘s bid for the vice presidency might be to avoid the international probe into his bloody drug war, according to an official of the ruling PDP-Laban.

PDP-Laban vice president for Visayas Lutgardo Barbo expressed this in an interview with ANC last July 2 after the reporters asked him about his public spat with party president and Senator Manny Pacquiao.

“Duterte wants to untangle himself from ICC,” Barbo said.

 

Last June 14, International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda requested “judicial authorization” to proceed a full investigation into the administration’s bloody drug war, citing possible crime against humanity of murder.

READ: International Criminal Court prosecutor requests green light for probe into Philippines killings

Barbo, however, pointed out that the chief executive running as the vice president in the coming elections goes against what PDP-Laban stands for.

He also quoted the late Sen. Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., who is the co-founder of ruling party.

“Speak out your mind before it is too late,” the late senator said.

Barbo noted that Duterte should have been willing to go out and ask the party members who should be the next leaders instead.

The PDP-Laban, which is spelled out as the Partido Demokratiko Pilipinas-Lakas ng Bayan, was founded by the late Senate president and Benigno Aquino Jr., both democracy icons after the Martial Law regime ended.

It is now headed by Pacquiao as president and Duterte as the chairperson.

Scripted national assembly

When asked about his thoughts on the PDP-Laban party national assembly in Cebu last May, Barbo viewed that this was “scripted.”

Based on previous reports, this party meeting voted for a resolution that urged Duterte to run for the second-highest position in the land.

It was also reportedly convened by Energy Secretary and PDP-Laban vice-chair Alfonso Cusi.

“Alfonso Cusi could not have called for that assembly without the knowledge of the president. Under the rules, ang president ang magpapatawag,” Barbo said.

This was previously confirmed by the Palace last May.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque stated that it was Duterte who directed Cusi to convene the members.

“This move, which is part of the democratic exercise, aims to consult party members and have fruitful and productive exchanges on issues affecting PDP-Laban,” Roque said.

Through a memorandum, Pacquiao discouraged the members to attend and participate this gathering because he had not authorize it, citing Section 4 and Section 5, Article XVI, Constitution of the PDP Laban.

In the same interview, Barbo expressed that Duterte did not do anything good for the party.

“We expected him to do something more. He did not something good for the political party. Kailangan eveyr now and then tinatawag yung assembly and siya mismo ang magsasalita dun kung anong gusto niya. Di sasabihin via some person,” he said.

Barbo also accused Duterte of being the reason behind the current discord among members.

“The President has a lot to answer for this mess in PDP-Laban. I personally hold him responsible,” he said.

A month after, the word war between the party’s top officials started.

In a briefing, Duterte challenged Pacquiao to prove his claim that the current administration is more corrupt than the predecessor.

READ: Duterte challenges Pacquiao to expose corruption

The boxer-turned-politician immediately accepted this challenge. He also noted that he is not a liar.

“Mawalang galang po mahal na Pangulo, ngunit hindi ako sinungaling. Dalawang bagay ang kaya kong panghawakan. Hindi ako tiwali at hindi ako sinungaling,” Pacquiao said.

During the meeting with executives of PDP-Laban and other government officials on Wednesday, Duterte said he is touched by the outpouring sentiments urging him to run for vice president. 

“If I run for vice president, maybe I will pero ‘wag na tayo mag promise ng pabahay. We just address the present agony and sorrow of the Filipinos,” he was quoted as saying.