THE CHAIRMAN of a faction of the ruling political party on Tuesday cited the irony of a rival group’s endorsement of the son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos for president, noting that it was set up in the 1980s to fight the dictatorship.
“They have manifested that they are total strangers to PDP-Laban,” Senator Aquilino “Koko” L. Pimentel III, who heads the rival faction that includes Senator and boxing champion Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao, told reporters in a Viber message.
“They don’t even acknowledge that PDP-Laban was established to oppose the Marcos dictatorship,” he added.
The faction that endorsed former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr.’s presidential run is headed by Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi. President Duterte also supports the group.
The presidential palace did not say if Mr. Duterte had also endorsed the candidacy of Mr. Marcos.
“This is clearly the decision of the party, but it is not clear if this is what President Duterte also wants,” his spokesman Jose Ruperto Martín M. Andanar told an online news briefing in Filipino.
The president earlier said he would stay neutral in the presidential race and would not endorse his replacement.
Mr. Pacquiao, who is running for president, told PDP-Laban members to ignore the endorsement.
“Cusi may have forgotten the PDP-Laban was formed against the Marcos regime,” he said in a statement. “Maybe he just forgot. All PDP members, let’s not follow Cusi,” he said in Filipino, adding that the move was a “slap in the face” of party members.
In a statement, Benhur C. Abalos, the national campaign manager of Mr. Marcos, said they were grateful and humbled by the party endorsement.
“The support for the BBM-Sara Uniteam solidifies the union of the country’s major political parties and further bolsters our call for national unity,” he said, referring to the initials for Bongbong Marcos. “Rest assured that we will carry on with our shared thrust for unity for sustainability of socioeconomic development and national progress.”
The Cusi faction in a resolution on Monday night said Mr. Marcos’s platform was “most aligned with the development program” of Mr. Duterte. “He is the candidate whose vision of governance is most aligned with PDP-Laban’s 11-point agenda.”
The group had also endorsed the candidacy of Davao City Mayor and presidential daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio, his running mate, for vice-president.
The Commission on Elections earlier kept a “temporary accommodation” policy on the two factions, with its en banc not having decided on which group should represent PDP-Laban.
Comelec spokesman James B. Jimenez said they had allowed candidates from both groups to use the party name on their printed ballots.
Mr. Duterte had yet to endorse his preferred successor, his spokesman said last week after Eastern Samar Governor Ben P. Evardone, PDP-Laban Vice President for the Visayas, said he had received presidential blessing to endorse the candidacy of Vice-President Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo.
The president won’t support anyone in the presidential race “unless there is a compelling reason,” Mr. Andanar said, adding that the governor had endorsed Ms. Robredo in his personal capacity.
Mr. Evardone on Monday last week endorsed Ms. Robredo, citing the qualifications set by Mr. Duterte himself.
Ms. Robredo would welcome Mr. Duterte’s endorsement provided that it’s not based on political favors, her spokesman Ibarra M. Gutierrez III said.
Mr. Duterte had said the next president should be a lawyer who is compassionate and decisive. Ms. Robredo and Jose Montemayor, Jr. are the only lawyers among the 10 presidential candidates for the May 9 elections.
Mr. Evardone said the President’s remarks on the traits of his successor was “a virtual endorsement” of Ms. Robredo.
The ruling PDP-Laban has been divided by in-fighting, with two factions claiming leadership over the party. Mr. Pacquiao, who is running for president, claims to be the rightful party president.
He was ousted last year by the faction led by Mr. Cusi.
Mr. Duterte last month said he would not endorse the presidential bid of Mr. Marcos even if he’s the running mate of his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
The tough-talking leader, who canceled his vice-presidential bid last year, also said he would not endorse any presidential candidate.
Also on Tuesday, Election Commissioner Marlon S. Casquejo said vote-counting machines to be used for the elections would be free from hacking and manipulation.
“If we relate this to the hacking incident, our vote-counting machine is a standalone system at the time of voting,” he said at an event demonstrating the automated election system streamed live on Facebook. “There is no way that anyone using any device or has hacking knowledge can insert any result in the vote-counting machines.”
Mr. Casquejo said the machines would send data to Comelec servers in seconds, making hacking impossible.
Local source code reviewers, election watchdog representatives and journalists watched the demonstration.
Smartmatic SGO Group, the software contractor for this year’s elections, had experienced a “very serious” data breach that could compromise this year’s elections, Senator Imee R. Marcos, Marcos, Jr.’s sister, told a news briefing last week.
The Manila Bulletin first reported on the hacking, which led to a government investigation. Sensitive data voter information might have been compromised after a group hacked the servers of Comelec, downloading more than 60 gigabytes of data, it said.
Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III had said that the Senate would collaborate with election and technical experts to investigate the security breaches.
Meanwhile, Comelec has released guidelines on contributions made by local corporations to political and partisan activities.
Donations by domestic companies must not exceed 5% of their taxable income, according to a copy of a Comelec resolution dated March.
Foreign corporations, public or private financial institutions and civil service officials are barred from giving donations. All legal contributions must be reported to Comelec. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan and John Victor D. Ordoñez