President Rodrigo Duterte signed Wednesday night his Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance (CONA) as official vice-presidential candidate of a faction of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, which remains confident Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go would soon agree to run as its bet for President in the 2022 polls.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has ordered the group of Senators Aquilino Pimentel III and Manny Pacquiao to answer the petition filed by the rival faction of PDP-Laban led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.
In a two-page order, the Commission en banc directed the camp of the senators to comment on the petition, which sought to declare their group as illegitimate.
In a virtual press conference, Cusi wing PDP Laban Secretary General Melvin Matibag announced that Duterte signed his CONA during a meeting with party leaders, new members, and other candidates in Davao.
“We’re still waiting for Sen. Bong Go to accept (his nomination as the presidential candidate of PDP Laban). We hope the action of the President would help Sen. Go to decide on his nomination soon,” Matibag said.
He stressed that PDP Laban is not considering any other presidential candidate as a possible substitute for Go.
“We’re not looking at it right now. It won’t be fair to Sen. Go to say that we are waiting for his decision and yet consider a possible substitute for him at the same time. We will wait for his decision until the last minute because we really feel there is a good chance he would accept,” Matibag said.
With President Duterte now officially their candidate for Vice President, Matibag said members of the ruling party are “excited” and now preparing for the campaign in 2022.
“We are happy that the President heeded the clamor of the grassroots—the real grassroots—of our party,” Matibag said.
At the same time, Matibag said PDP Laban is busy issuing CONAs to the party’s official candidates for local posts and readying the same document for its senatorial ticket.
The lawyer said the party will likely announce additional members of its senatorial lineup in the coming weeks.
PDP Laban released its initial senatorial ticket during its national convention last Sept. 8 in Pampanga.
The list included Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Leyte 4th District Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar, House Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta, and Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission Commissioner Greco Belgica.
While reports said Torres-Gomez is not running for senator, Matibag refused to comment on the matter, saying the ruling party has yet to receive formal notice from the lawmaker.
Likewise, Matibag declined to comment on the declaration of the tandem of Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso and Dr. Willie Ong as presidential and vice-presidential candidates, respectively, of Aksyon Demokratiko party.
“We are not focusing on the weakness or strength of our potential opponents, but rather we are focusing on our own improving our strength and addressing our weaknesses to increase our chances of victory in the coming elections,” Matibag pointed out.
He also announced the signing of a formal alliance Thursday afternoon with the national party Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan (PDDS) of Belgica.
“Remember that we had announced the inclusion of Chairman Belgica in our senatorial ticket. So, we decided to enter into an alliance agreement with his PDDS, which also espouses federalism like PDP Laban,” Matibag said.
Similar alliance agreements are also being forged with several local parties, he said.
Meanwhile, Matibag lauded the Comelec for acting on PDP Laban’s petition seeking to stop Senators Pacquiao and Pimentel III from representing themselves as officials of the ruling party.
In a two-page order dated 22 September 2021 and signed by Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abbas, the poll body directed the respondents to file their answer to the petition filed by PDP Laban wing led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.
“We are thankful for the swift action of the Comelec on our petition,” Matibag said.
Early resolution of the petition, according to Matibag, will give their candidates “peace of mind” that they would be running under the banner of the legitimate PDP Laban.
Without a CONA from a political party recognized by the Comelec, any candidate who would file his certificate of candidacy would be deemed merely as an independent candidate, according to Matibag.
“The Commission (En Banc) hereby directs the Respondents to file their answers within five days from receipt hereof via e-mail to the Clerk of the Commission ([email protected]
) and furnish the Petitioners a copy thereof,” the poll body said in an order dated Sept. 22 and released on Thursday.
“Immediately after filing through e-mail, the same documents shall be sent in four hard copies to the Office of the Clerk of the Commission at the 8th Floor, Palacio del Gobernador Bldg., General Luna St., Intramuros, Manila, through the fastest means available, including registered mail or any courier service,” it added.
Both camps are claiming to be the legitimate leaders of the political party.
The Pimentel camp has declared Pacquiao as its presidential candidate.