PDP-Laban faction formally nominates Go-Duterte tandem

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
PDP-Laban faction formally nominates Go-Duterte tandem
Bong Go, who served as Duterte’s top aide for more than two decades, files his certificate of candidacy for senator for the 2019 elections.
File photo

MANILA, Philippines (Update 2, 6:41 p.m.) — The PDP-Laban faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi on Wednesday formally nominated Sen. Bong Go and President Rodrigo Duterte as their presidential and vice presidential candidates for the 2022 elections.

Duterte thanked the Cusi wing of the administration party for the nomination. However, it is still unclear whether Go had accepted the nomination.

Go and Duterte’s nomination to run for the top two posts in the country was expected, given that top officials of the Cusi wing had endorsed the two for the same positions a month ago.

Duterte had accepted the earlier endorsement, but Go did not. Members of the Cusi faction, however, continued to push Go toward seeking the presidency.

In a statement on Wednesday, Go again said he is not interested in running for president. 

He thanked the party for considering him, adding in Filipino that "for someone from the province and a simple employee whom you made a senator, it is a great honor to be considered for the presidency."

He said that PDP-Laban should look for others who could be Duterte's running mate.

"Ang importante ay haanapan natin ng katimbang si Pangulong Duterte upang maipagpatuloy ang pagbabago," he said.

(What is important is for us is to look for someone like President Duterte to continue the change he started)

Duterte, a last-minute substitution in the 2016 elections, also said in the run-up to the filing of candidacy papers that he did not want to seek the presidency.

Cusi wing seeks continuity

Top officials of the Cusi wing of PDP-Laban have said that they want Go and Duterte to run in the 2022 elections to ensure continuity of the current administration’s governance, which has been criticized over alleged human rights abuses and its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I want to see the continuity of the efforts even though I may not be the one giving the direction," Duterte said in a speech during the Cusi wing's national convention. "Baka makatulong lang ako (I might just be able to help.)"

The Cusi wing also proclaimed eight politicians as their official senatorial candidates, although only four of them hail from the party.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade and Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez (Leyte) are all senatorial candidates of the Cusi wing.

Its guest senatorial candidates are presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission chairman Greco Belgica and Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta (SAGIP party-list).

PDP-Laban split

The next step for Duterte and his yet to be determined running mate would be for them to file their candidacies before the Commission on Elections in October, but the poll body has also yet to decide on which faction of the PDP-Laban is legitimate.

There are two warring wings of PDP-Laban, one led by Cusi and the other led by Sen. Manny Pacquiao, which both claim to be the legitimate ruling party.

In an escalation of conflict between the two factions, the Cusi wing asked the Comelec on Tuesday to declare the Pacquiao wing as illegitimate and to stop them from acting on behalf of the party.

The Cusi wing, despite being confident that they will be declared as the legitimate PDP-Laban in the end, said they are prepared for any outcome, including having their bets run as independent candidates in the event their faction is declared illegitimate.

The party, whose ranks grew during the Duterte administration, saw similar fractures in 2014, when then Vice President Jejomar Binay left over differences with Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III and other members of PDP-Laban. Binay eventually ran for president at the helm of the United Nationalist Alliance.

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