SEN. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel 3rd refused to recognize the new set of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) officers elected last Saturday, as the fight between rival factions in the party continues to heat up.

The election was held during a party meeting called by the group led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

Cusi was elected president of the party, ousting Sen. Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao.

Pimentel, Pacquiao's ally, was unseated as executive vice chairman.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. sees the row reaching the Supreme Court, since President Rodrigo Duterte, PDP-Laban's chairman, wants the dispute settled legally.

Roque also said Cusi's camp may bring the dispute to the Commission on Elections.

"It will go all the way up to the Supreme Court," Roque told The Manila Times without providing details.

Pimentel said the election, which had the blessing of President Duterte, was illegal and had "no force and effect."

He said the group led by Pacquiao will continue to function as a party.

The row stemmed from Cusi's supposed allegiance to a party other than PDP-Laban and to presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is a party outsider.

Pacquiao accused Cusi of maneuvering his ouster to pave the way for a Duterte-Duterte tandem, a team-up in which Sara will run for president with her father as her running mate.

Cusi has since denied he was being disloyal to PDP-Laban.

Pimentel said he "anticipated" Cusi's move to overthrow him and Pacquiao.

"Anticipated na namin ito (this). Nakita na natin ito noon pa (we saw this beforehand)," he said in a radio interview.

He said his group will conduct its own reorganization and call a national assembly of the party in September.

Pimentel stressed Cusi's election was questionable because the PDP-Laban "headquarters" had already expelled him for "acts inimical to the best interest of the party, disloyalty to the party and then allegiance to another party."

"Ang stand namin dito (our stand is that) all of these are unauthorized so it should not affect the current PDP-Laban structure," he said.

Asked what will be his next step, Pimentel said, "Meron naman kaming sariling kilos nga na gagawin - 'yung sa September na (We have our own plan in September)."

"It's like a national assembly. Because if we need to reorganize, we will also reorganize if we need to. And then, that is when we're going to nominate a party candidate [in the 2022 elections]," he said.

"If we need to formalize, we will also do that. We'll determine in September if there are other [members] who are interested in running for president."

He maintained the process must be fair. "The voting delegates must be chosen, hindi nakatali sa isang tao (not tied up to one person)," he pointed out.

Pacquiao is said to be eyeing a presidential bid next year. The boxing icon is in Los Angeles, California, preparing for his title fight in August against American boxer Errol Spence Jr.

The filing of a certificate of candidacy is in October.

"If we meet to reorganize, we need to assess first because we have a current set of officers. You only reorganize if there is enough clamor to reorganize, otherwise, these motions are all useless," Pimentel said.

The senator, whose late father, former senator Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr. founded PDP, said he has yet to talk to Pacquiao.

"Ayoko muna siya istorbohin kasi karangalan din ng Pilipinas 'yan kung manalo si Sen. Pacquiao (I don't want to disturb him because if Sen. Pacquiao wins it will also be an honor for the Philippines)," he said.