PDP Laban won’t substitute Bato for Sara–Cusi

PDP Laban party president and Energy Secretary Al Cusi on Wednesday doused speculations that the party will eventually substitute its presidential candidate, Senator Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, for Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio in the May 2022 elections.

Cusi added that President Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter has been “very clear” that she does not intend to seek the presidency under the banner of the ruling party.

“With Mayor Inday Sara substituting Bato, that is something which we did not consider. Mayor Inday’s statement was very clear that she won’t run under PDP. If she won’t, then how can she substitute our bet?” Cusi said in a television interview.

Duterte-Carpio has been leading all recent pre-election presidential surveys, but she opted to seek reelection as Davao City’s local chief executive. She heads the Davao Region-based party Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HnP).

At least five national political parties, namely Lakas-CMD, National Unity Party (NUP), Nacionalista Party (NP), Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), and People’s Reform Party (PRP) have signified their interest to join the HNP’s coalition in preparation for the upcoming elections.

Cusi did not shut the door, however, on the possibility that de la Rosa, who is running alongside Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go in the next polls, may be replaced before the deadline of the substitution of candidates on 15 November.

“Anything is possible at this time,” the Energy chief replied when asked if the party is still open to fielding other candidates instead of the de la Rosa-Go tandem.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) allows aspirants, who belong to a political party or coalition, to withdraw their certificate of candidacy and be substituted by a party mate until the aforementioned date.

While several lawmakers pushed to ban the rule on substitution of candidates as they deemed it “mockery of the election process,” a PDP Laban official stressed that availing the period of substitution by a political party is allowed by law.

Lawyer Melvin Matibag, the secretary general of PDP Laban, argued that it is not a mockery of the elections law if political parties “use every available legal option, or time, for them to finally decide the candidates to field.”

Duterte won the presidential elections in 2016 despite entering the race as a substitute candidate and beyond the filing of candidacy’s deadline.

While there are still more than three weeks before the deadline of candidate substitution draws to a close, Cusi admitted that the party officials are looking at all the candidates and the current political landscape.

After all, he recalled, the PDP Laban only fielded de la Rosa after its “original plan” failed.

“We did not realize our original plan to have Sen. Go run for president and Pres. Duterte for vice president. Sen. Go said he would only run if his running mate is Pres. Duterte. He was really hesitant to run as president,” Cusi said.

“When it did not happen, and the President said ‘I’m not going to run anymore,’ we made an adjustment in the party because we cannot be orphaned. We cannot go without having a presidential candidate as well as for the vice presidency,” he added.

Cusi pointed out that the party is not merely pushing for a personality, but it aims to advance its advocacy as well as its program of the government.

“Why did we put Sen. Bato? It’s because he has that advocacy. He supports the program of the President, so he can advance the party’s program. That’s what we’re looking for in a president,” he said.

“It’s not the question of winning. It’s a question of being able to do the service, make the change, (and) deliver the aspiration of the Filipinos.

“At that time, we considered Sen. Bato because he has such advocacy. That’s what the party agreed upon, so we fielded him as our presidential candidate,” he explained.

Days after he filed his certificate of candidacy for president, de la Rosa revealed that the party informed him that he was chosen to be its standard-bearer barely two hours before the filing’s closing.

Prior to being elected as senator, de la Rosa was a former national police chief and led the Duterte administration’s anti-narcotics drive.

The former top cop vowed to protect himself and the President from the International Criminal Court’s investigation into the administration’s anti-drug war if he wins the presidential race next year.

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Credit belongs to : www.tribune.net.ph

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