Lakas-CMD, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s party, has opened the door for Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio to run for president in next year’s elections through substitution.
A high-ranking party official said Tuesday that their presidential candidate, Anna Capella Velasco, could give way to the President’s daughter if the latter decides to seek the highest post in the land.
Lakas-CMD secretary-general atnd Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero “Butch” Pichay Jr. told Daily Tribune that the party is amenable to fielding Sara in place of Velasco, the party’s executive director.
“If she (Sara) decides to run for president and run under our party,” Pichay said of the possibility that is sure to tantalize the mayor’s supporters who had been egging her on to follow her father’s footsteps to ensure the continuity of his legacy.
In July, Lakas-CMD president and House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez vowed to mobilize the “entire machinery” of the party to ensure Sara’s victory in the presidential derby.
On several occasions, Sara met with Macapagal-Arroyo, who is Lakas-CMD president emeritus, for consultations while she was being urged to vie for the presidency.
Early this year, Lakas-CMD initiated an alliance agreement with Duterte-Carpio’s regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HnP) in preparation for the 2022 national and local elections.
The alliance may allow Sara to legally substitute for Velasco until 15 November, the last day for the substitution of candidates by parties.
Sara has filed her Certificate of Candidacy (CoC) for mayor of Davao City, saying she wants to be reelected since she still has a lot to accomplish there.
Pichay denied that Velasco is just a “placeholder” candidate, saying that she is “very much willing” to seek the presidency.
“The survey today won’t matter two weeks before the elections. We can never tell. There is no exact science as far as the Philippine electorate is concerned,” Pichay said.
“Whoever thought that Duterte would win as when he ran, he only had a five-percent rating?” Pichay pointed out, defending the party’s presidential bet.
“In modern-day elections, whoever can sell the candidate well, it’s a matter of messaging,” he added.
Pichay averred that Velasco cannot be considered a “nuisance candidate” in the presidential field that includes Senators Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and Manny Pacquiao, Vice President Leni Robredo and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso.
“A nuisance candidate cannot actually wage a campaign. Our party has 30 congressmen, so many governors, so many mayors. We can afford to wage a campaign. The party is capable of waging a campaign nationwide,” Pichay asserted.
Fielding Velasco is a “party decision,” he noted. He disclosed that the party also urged its chairperson, Sen. Bong Revilla Jr., to run for president, but he declined, saying that 2022 is not yet his time.
“We already have a presidential candidate but we can still negotiate with other presidential candidates,” Pichay said.
“In effect, I’m saying — we put up a candidate, but if there are other candidates whose ratings are high then we can consider them, but you know this business of substitution is actually creating a game of chess among the parties,” he added.
He cited as example the ruling PDP Laban which fielded for president Senator Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa “but we all know that Senator Bato is not really serious in running for president.”
Under Comelec en banc Resolution 10717, aspirants who belong to a political party or coalition can withdraw their CoC and be substituted until 15 November 2021.
De la Rosa on Tuesday said he will seek the guidance of President Duterte before pursuing his candidacy should Sara decide to run for president under Lakas-CMD.
De la Rosa said he will abide by the decision of their party before making a move on his presidential bid in next year’s elections.
“If they say that I should withdraw for Mayor Sara although she’s in another party, then I will do it. If they say I continue, as a soldier, I will follow. But before that, I will ask the President,” he said.
“I will ask him, ‘Sir, will you allow the two of us to clash?’ If he agrees then, by all means, I will follow him. If he says no, then you know what I will do. But as I’ve said I will wait for the decision of the party,” he added.
Meanwhile, House Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez called for a stop to the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) practice of allowing political parties to substitute candidates after the filing of candidacies.
Rufus cited the need to “put an end to the manipulation and mockery of the election process” under a Comelec rule allowing substitution.
“One reform I am proposing is an almost absolute ban on substitution of candidates by political parties. Another is the restoration of the old rule requiring incumbent officials to resign or to be deemed automatically resigned upon the filing of their Certificates of Candidacy for other positions,” Rodriguez said.
“It is lamentable that for the May 2022 elections, certain candidates for the presidency are perceived to be proxies for some personalities, even if they can be considered as serious aspirants,” Rodriguez said.
The proposed reform would force aspirants to take filing CoC for higher positions “seriously” and would stop the mockery and manipulation of the electoral process in the country, he said.
“These would also make more people believe in the integrity of our elections,” he emphasized.
with Sundy Locus