As 'substitution' deadline nears, Dela Rosa meets with Sara Duterte

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
As 'substitution' deadline nears, Dela Rosa meets with Sara Duterte
In this photo published on October 25, 2021, presidential aspirant and Sen. Ronald dela Rosa is seen meeting with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Bato dela Rosa on Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa, standard-bearer of the ruling PDP-Laban party, met with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio at the Davao City Hall on Monday. 

This was confirmed by Dela Rosa himself in a Facebook post. He did not say what the meeting was about. 

"Just a teaser for now," he wrote in Filipino. 

"I just reminded her that November 15 is fast approaching," Dela Rosa also said.

Duterte-Carpio, who belongs to the Hugpong ng Pagbabago regional party, was in Cebu over the weekend. She had a meeting with former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., presidential candidate of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas and son and namesake of the ousted dictator, on how Davao might be able to help his presidential bid.

Nuisance candidate?

Dela Rosa has indicated his willingness to drop out of the race should the president's daughter decide to run for the country's top post — a move that an election lawyer and a right group say might make him a nuisance candidate. The Commission on Elections says saying he is willing to withdraw does not make him a nuisance candidate.

Under the Omnibus Election Code, nuisance candidates are those who file certificates of candidacy "to put the election process in mockery or disrepute or to cause confusion among the voters... or by other circumstances or acts which clearly demonstrate that the candidate has no bona fide intention to run for the office for which the certificate of candidacy has been filed."

In the same interview with reporters, he admitted that he was only told that he would run for president three hours before the deadline on the last day for filing certificates of candidacy on October 8.

Candidates have until mid-November to withdraw or file as substitute candidates.

ICC investigation into "war on drugs"

The former chief of the Philippine National Police was director of Davao City Police when President Rodrigo Duterte was mayor.

As PNP chief, he was chief implementer of the Duterte administration's flagship "war on drugs", under which official police data says some 6,100 drug suspects were killed in official operations. Alleged crimes against humanity throughout the drug war are now the subject of an investigation by the International Criminal Court. 

READ: 40% chance of Sara running as president – Bato

In a separate interview aired over ABS-CBN News Channel, Dela Rosa also said that he will move to protect President Duterte and himself from the investigation by the ICC if elected president.

"I will not only protect President Duterte but also myself because we are both co-accused in the case there," he said then in Filipino, adding that allowing an investigation would be a "slap in the face" of the courts. 

Although Dela Rosa is named in communications filed before the ICC, the court has only authorized an investigation. There is no decision yet on whether to prosecute.

No plans for the presidency yet from Sara

Speaking to reporters on Sunday at the sidelines of a gathering by the League of Municipalities of the Philippines in Liloan, Cebu, Duterte-Carpio reiterated that she had no intention of running for president — the same point she has been asserting for months now. 

"No, I don’t have plans to run for president of the country," she said in mixed Filipino and English. 

Pressed for details on meetings with presidential aspirant Marcos in Cebu, Duterte said that they discussed how Davao could help with his presidential bid, and not about forming a possible tandem together. 

"What we talked about is how we, Region 3 and Davao, can help his bid for the presidency."

But earlier this month, Dela Rosa said that the Davao City chief is "40%" open to the idea, adding that he believes Duterte-Carpio has not made a final decision yet.

President Duterte's own candidacy in 2015 came after saying for months that he had no intention to run for president. He said then that he would retire from politics at the end of his term as mayor of Davao City. 

READ: Dela Rosa readiness to back out could make him 'nuisance candidate' — election lawyer

— with reports from The Freeman 

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