President Rodrigo Duterte may yet pull a surprise by the yearend and may heed the call of his political party, PDP-Laban, to seek the vice presidency in the next year’s elections.
For now, he is “resisting” such a call, but he may yet change his mind and substitute for whoever would be fielded by the PDP-Laban for the post at the last minute of the prescribed period.
He did it in the 2016 presidential elections and may do it again.
“Our Omnibus Election Code allows for that,” said presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, referring to the possibility that Duterte would substitute for a vice-presidential candidate at the last minute.
Duterte is not yet saying no to a possible vice-presidential bid in the 2022 elections, Roque said, echoing the sentiment of the Philippines’ dominant political party.
“He is resisting — that is the word (he had) used. So, he does not like it, but he is not saying no,” he told reporters.
On Tuesday, the President said he was “resisting” the resolution adopted by the PDP-Laban’s national council “convincing” him to pursue the government’s second-highest post, adding that he has been preparing for retirement after his term.
The resolution, submitted to the President’s office last Thursday, also stated that the national council was giving him a free hand to choose his running mate, who would also serve as the party’s standard-bearer.
“That’s difficult. I will retire, but I will choose the president. And if he or she wins, they will say I will perpetuate myself in power. So, I will resist it,” Duterte said in an interview with Apollo Quiboloy.
Despite his pronouncement, PDP-Laban believes that Duterte is still pondering about a vice-presidential run in the next elections.
“He (Duterte) did not say that he does not want to run. It is different from saying outright that he does not want it,” PDP-Laban acting secretary-general Melvin Matibag said in a text message.
Matibag was among the members of the PDP-Laban’s national council who approved the resolution during their meeting in vote-rich Cebu province on 31 May.
The party was also hopeful that the President would heed their call to supposedly ensure the continuity of the administration’s programs.
Roque earlier said that Duterte’s decision whether he would pursue the vice-presidency would likely be revealed in October or even as late as December.
“We would finally know what his decision would be in December when the period for substitution would lapse,” Roque said in an interview with ANC, reminiscent of Duterte’s presidential candidacy five years ago.
During the previous national elections, Martin Diño, a former chairperson of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, initially served as the PDP-Laban’s presidential candidate after filing a certificate for candidacy in October 2016.
Duterte replaced him in November of that year.
For the 2022 national and local elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) set the filing of certificates of candidacy from the president down to municipal councilors, as well as the filing of nomination and acceptance, on 1 to 8 October. Meanwhile, the cutoff for the substitution period was scheduled in November.
More than 18,000 positions are up for grabs in the next polls.
Some 59 million Filipinos have so far registered for the upcoming elections, according to the Comelec.