The faction of the ruling PDP-Laban party allied with President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said they never considered his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, as a substitute for their election standard-bearer, Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa.
“The issue of Mayor Inday Sara substituting for Bato, that is something which we never really considered because her statement was very clear that she will not run under PDP. So, if she will not run under us, how could we substitute her for Bato?” party faction president and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said.
However, Cusi said “anything is possible at this time” when asked if the faction is looking for another candidate for the country’s top post.
“We are looking at all other candidates, we are looking at the landscape, this is political,” he added when asked about considering former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. as their presidential bet.
He said Dela Rosa was fielded because their original plan for a Senator Christopher “Bong” Go-Duterte tandem was not realized.
“When that 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 with no President and Vice President in the upcomingelections,” Cusi said.
“At that time, Sen. Bato was there. Well, he also has an advocacy that is why the party agreed to field him and push him to run for President,” he added.
Asked whether PDP-Laban is trying to talk with other candidates, Cusi said “it’s the other way around.”
“There are some who approached us. We discussed it but these are all pure discussions,” he said.
Cusi acknowledged that some PDP-Laban members wanted to support other candidates, noting that some members even wanted to support Sara as their presidential candidate. But he said what is important for them are the advocacies.
“PDP is advancing this party politics and we have a program of government. What we are looking at is the program of government of each candidate,” he said.
On October 8, Dela Rosa filed his certificate of candidacy for President under PDP-Laban. Talks of the Davao mayor substituting for Dela Rosa grew when the senator filed his certificate of candidacy wearing a shirt with the logo of Hugpong ng Pagbabago, a Davao region-based political party chaired by Duterte-Carpio.
Dela Rosa likewise said he was open to the idea of Mayor Sara stepping in for him as PDP-Laban’s presidential bet. However, the Commission on Elections only allows a partymate to substitute for the aspirant who withdrew his or her candidacy.
Duterte-Carpio is not a PDP-Laban member and said earlier she will rise and fall with HNP.