THE Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban ng Bayan is divided over who will be the running mate of its standard bearer, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
The party’s president, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, admitted that some party members wanted Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, while others preferred Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to run with Duterte.
Cayetano is running as an independent candidate. Marcos is the vice president of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, who is seeking the presidency under her People’s Reform Party.
When questioned about a possible break up of his team-up with Santiago, Marcos said: “Of course everything is possible. This is Philippine politics. Everything is possible. So, we’ll see. This election has turned out to be unique and there are many, shall we say, arrangements that are not traditional. So, we will have to find and make our own way with Senator Miriam to define exactly what our coalition will be.”
Duterte, who earlier filed his candidacy for reelection as mayor in Davao City, said he decided to run for president because he was disappointed with the decision of the Senate Electoral Tribunal to junk the disqualification case against Senator Grace Poe, the survey frontrunner in the presidential race.
Duterte said he could not accept an American president, referring to the time the senator gave up her Philippine citizenship to become an American citizen.
He also insisted that Poe was not qualified to run for president because as a foundling, she could not be considered a natural-born citizen, which is a requirement to be senator or president.
Although Duterte has said he will run with Cayetano, Pimentel said as far as the party was concerned, nothing was certain.
“There will be consultation and it should be step by step. He [Duterte] has yet to file [his candidacy for president],” Pimentel said.
Duterte has until Dec. 10 to file his certificate of candidacy for president as the substitute candidate of Martin Diño, the party’s supposed standard bearer, who withdrew from the presidential race.
While admitting that Cayetano is the No. 1 choice of the party members to run with Duterte, Pimentel said other members want Marcos.
But he said Duterte’s choice would carry more weight, and if no objections are raised, the party could decide on a vice president.
Marcos welcomed Pimentel’s statement.
“If somebody supports me, why will I turn that down? I will always welcome anyone’s support,” Marcos said.
Using the words of Santiago, Marcos said they were forming a loose coalition.
Marcos said he and Duterte were always talking, but nothing about the mayor’s plans are final.
The Palace on Wednesday said it would leave it up to the Commission on Elections to decide whether to allow Duterte to substitute for Diño.
“The issue of a substitute candidate is a matter entirely left to Comelec, a constitutional commission which exercises it’s jurisdiction independent from the Executive Branch,” said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
Former Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes on Tuesday said he saw no legal obstacle for Duterte to run as Diño’s substitute.
This was in contrast to election lawyer Romulo Macalintal’s view that the substitution would not be allowed if Diño is deemed a nuisance candidate.
Brillantes said there were three requirements for a candidate to qualify as a substitute—if the candidate has died; if the candidate is disqualified; or if the candidate is declared a nuisance.
“All three requirements do not constitute a stumbling block for Duterte. He can run for president. The candidate he was replacing has not died, neither was he disqualified nor declared a nuisance candidate,” Brillantes said.
“Diño can no longer be declared a nuisance candidate because he has already withdrawn his CoC even before the Comelec could take up his case,” Brillantes added.
On the other hand, Camiguin Rep. Xavier Jesus Romualdo, a staunch ally of the ruling Liberal Party, said the legal issues hounding Duterte are even more complicated than the citizenship and residency case of Poe.