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Bato candidacy part of PDP Laban Cusi wing ‘zarzuela’ — Munsayac

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PDP Laban Cusi wing presidential candidate Ronald 'Bato' Dela Rosa (L) and PDP Laban Pacquiao faction national executive director Ronwald Munsayac. (File photo)

Echoing its initial pronouncements, the wing led by Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao inside the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban) on Monday maintained that the candidacy of Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa for president is part of the “zarzuela” orchestrated by their rival faction to hide its own presidential bet in the 2022 National Elections.

“Based on our consultations with partymates in PDP-Laban and allies in PROMDI (Probinsya Muna Development Initiative) party, Sen. Bato is not the real candidate of the PDP Laban Cusi wing,” Ronwald Munsayac, national executive director of Pacquiao-led PDP Laban, told reporters in a media forum.

“Like they said, why did they organize a fake assembly and fake nomination if they will not follow the candidates that they nominated. We still see this as a zarzuela and a smokescreen. But if not, this is a huge failure,” he added.

On Friday, Dela Rosa’s sudden appearance at the venue for the filing of candidacies surprised many after he lodged his certificate of candidacy (COC) for President under the PDP Laban wing led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

The senator disclosed that he was also shocked by the news as he was advised by his partymates to file his COC just two hours before the end of the filing period.

He clarified that he never indicated to run for the country’s highest seat but he was among those who are being considered inside the party alongside other incumbent Senators Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go and Francis “Tol” Tolentino.

“They called me at around 3:00 p.m. to file my COC. I asked what’s the reason and they said the leadership sees no other person to continue the legacy of President Duterte except you. I told them I will be there,” he told reporters in a separate press briefing.

“I never indicated but they were considering me. Actually after Sen. Go, it was me and then Sen. Tolentino. But Sem. Go filed for vice president so I was considered more. The final decision was made during that afternoon,” said dela Rosa.

But for Munsayac, the move may be just another tactic for the Cusi-led faction to “buy more time” to convince their true candidate to run for President in next year’s elections.

He said the Cusi-led group has two options for their standard-bearer — all public figures coming from Davao City.  He openly named Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio as one but refused to disclose who is the other possible candidate.

The party official then urged the other group to end the “drama” and said that presidential bets should be ready to launch their bids during the filing period.

“The true deadline is 15 November. I just hope that if someone wants to run for President, he should be ready to file during the filing period. Let’s stop the drama of substitution and clamor. If this is a book or a film, we have watched this before. This is an old script,” he said.

Dela Rosa, for his part, said that he was never informed that he will be a “temporary” candidate for Duterte-Carpio but has long accepted the possibility.

He said he is willing to forgo his bid if his party will be able to encourage the Davao City mayor to seek a higher office.

“I am just practical. I am serious in encouraging Mayor Sara to run but I am very serious to run too,” dela Rosa said.

“It doesn’t mean that I won’t give way to a more winnable candidate. If MAyor Sara will not run then I will,” he added.

In the meantime, the senator said he is preparing for his presidential bid as he expressed his willingness to lead the country.

He may not have his own platform at the moment but he vowed to continue the legacy of the Duterte administration including its controversial war on drugs should he be elected into the presidency.

“I come with a clean heart and that’s my best weapon. If my heart was tainted, I think I am the least qualified but my heart is clean. I am sincere and I am ready to face all challenges and risks for the position,” he said.

Dela Rosa’s presidential bid came to a shock after the Cusi-led faction of PDP Laban faction nominated the Go-Duterte tandem as its standard-bearers for 2022 during its own national convention in September.

Go, however, repeatedly declined the nomination and said that he has “no interest” in gunning for the country’s highest seat.

But the lawmaker — in another surprising move — replaced Duterte as PDP-Laban’s vice presidential bet and filed his CoC on 2 October.

The other wing, meanwhile, has formally launched the presidential candidacy of Pacquiao.

The Commission on Elections has yet to decide who truly owns PDP Laban after the two factions have submitted their Sworn Information Update Statement (SIUS) — a document required by the poll body to every registered political parties containing the full name of the party, headquarters address, list of current officials, list of elected members, and list of members, among others.

The poll body is expected to hear the issue en banc this week including the petition filed by the Cusi-led faction to rule the members of the other wing as “illegitimate members” of PDP-Laban.

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