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Duterte accepts nomination for VP, admin party faction says

Alexis Romero, Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com
Duterte accepts nomination for VP, admin party faction says
Photos show President Duterte gesturing as he updates the nation on the government’s COVID-19 response effort during a televised address at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang the other night.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines (Update 2, 6:09 p.m.) — President Rodrigo Duterte will run as administration party PDP-Laban's candidate for vice president in 2022, the faction of the party led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi announced Tuesday. 

"It's a go for PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) to run for VP (vice president) in 2022," PDP-Laban president and energy secretary Alfonso Cusi said in a text message to The STAR.

This comes after the national executive council of the PDP-Laban earlier this month endorsed the tandem of Sen. Christopher Go for president and Duterte for vice president.

According to a news release, the president "agreed to make the sacrifice and heed the clamor of the people, and accepted the endorsement of the PDP Laban Party for him to run as Vice President in the 2022 National Elections." 

It made no mention of any decisions made by Go, who was Duterte's longtime aide before he became a first-term senator, on the party's endorsement. He has previously said he would agree to run only if the president would agree to be his vice president.

In a statement, Go said he is "still not interested" in seeking the presidency. He said the administration party should consider others who want to run.

Duterte, a last-minute candidate in the 2016 polls, has sent mixed signals on the potential run for vice president.

The Cusi-led faction of the party also announced that the following personalities will be part of its senatorial slate for 2022: 

  • House Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta (Sagip party-list)

  • Department of Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gregorio Honasan II

  • Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo

  • Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade

  • Public Works Secretary Mark Villar

"These shall be among the matters to be taken up at the PDP Laban national convention to be held this 8 September 2021, at San Jose Del Monte Convention Center, Sapang Palay Proper, City of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan," the statement signed by the party's executive vice president Karlo Nograles ends. 

Nograles is Duterte's Cabinet secretary and has also been floated as a possible canddiate for senator.

Despite confirmation from his party, Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque during his regular briefing on Tuesday said the president will likely confirm whether he will seek the vice presidency in 2022 at his televised meeting with the pandemic task force on Tuesday evening.

Duterte's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, is currently topping presidential surveys. Critics and experts have warned that having two Dutertes occupy the country's top posts would be the "height of" and the "final stop" in the decades-long rise of political dynasties in the country. 

Mockery?

The possibility of Duterte seeking the vice presidency has drawn flak among administration critics, with Howard Calleja of the opposition coalition 1Sambayan calling it a "mockery" of the 1987 Constitution and "a joke of the worst kind."

Nograles, however, disputed this, saying the charter does not bar presidents from seeking other posts after their term.

"That's totally false and unfounded," Nograles said.

"Several presidents ran for different positions after their term of office. Someone ran for mayor while another president ran for Congress and even became the speaker of the House," he added.

Nograles was referring to former president Joseph Estrada, who became mayor of Manila and former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was elected as a representative of Pampanga.

The PDP-Laban, which is dealing with an internal row involving the factions of Cusi and administration ally-turned-critic Sen. Manny Pacquiao, adopted a resolution urging Duterte to run for vice president last May.

Mixed signals

The 76-year-old Duterte previously sent mixed signals with regard to calls for him to seek the vice presidency. During a recent meeting with party allies, Duterte said he was "somehow sold" to the idea of joining the vice presidential race. But he had also expressed concern that he might end up becoming an "inutile" if the next president is not his ally.

While he had announced in earlier interviews that he was ready for his retirement, Duterte had also expressed willingness to run for vice president "if it is good for the country."

Last month, Duterte, who has been accused of encouraging human rights abuses in his controversial drug war, floated the idea of joining the vice presidential race in 2022 to gain immunity from suit. Law experts have noted that there is nothing in the 1987 Constitution that grants immunity to the vice president but Malacañang believes Duterte's remark could be "an opportunity to provoke jurisprudence."

Duterte's anti-drug campaign, which has resulted in the deaths of more than 6,000 suspects, has been the subject of crimes against humanity complaints before the International Criminal Court (ICC). Malacañang has belittled the complaints against the drug war, saying the ICC has no jurisdiction over the issue because the Philippines is no longer a member of the tribunal.

No standard bearer yet

Nograles also revealed five of the ruling party's senatorial candidates namely House Deputy Speaker and 1-SAGIP party list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gregorio Honasan, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, and Public Works Secretary Mark Villar.

The party, however, has no presidential candidate yet because Sen. Bong Go has not accepted its endorsement

"As it stands, nothing has changed. The endorsement of the national (executive committee) is for Sen. Bong Go to run for president but he has not yet given us a categorcial answer to that endorsement," Nograles said.

"Let us wait and give Sen. Bong Go the opportunity and time to make the decision. As it stands our endorsement is still there.  Whether he will accept it is something we will  monitor," he added.

Nograles said Duterte's choice for presidential candidate would hold a "great weight" to the party.

"He (Duterte) is not only chairman of PDP-Laban but also president of the Republic of the Philippines so yes, his opinion and recommendation would (have a heavy weight). Even in the selection of senatorial line up, the President will have a huge say," he said.

The ruling party is expected to officially nominate its national candidates for next year's elections during its national convention on September 8 in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. -

— with a report from Xave Gregorio 

PDP-LABAN RODRIGO DUTERTE
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