Presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque is not ruling out the possibility of joining the senatorial race in next year’s elections.
The Palace official said on Saturday that he will discuss his potential Senate bid with President Rodrigo Duterte and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio ahead of the substitution deadline.
“(I) will confer with PRRD and Mayor Sara,” Roque told the Daily Tribune in a text message when asked if he remains open to a substitution scenario.
The People’s Reform Party (PRP), in which he is a member, disclosed on Friday that Roque will run for senator by substituting a candidate the party had fielded during the 8 October deadline set by the Commission on Elections.
“Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque is expected to join Teodoro in the PRP Senate slate as a substitute candidate,” said party vice president Rey David through a statement sent to the media.
David was referring to former defense secretary Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. who also sought to be the running mate of Duterte-Carpio for the 2022 presidential and vice-presidential elections.
Roque previously expressed his intention to seek a Senate seat next year. He then declared that he will run only if Duterte-Carpio would pursue the presidency in 2022.
The Palace official did not file his Certificate of Candidacy (CoC) after Duterte-Carpio rejected calls for her presidential bid and instead sought reelection as mayor of Davao City.
Should Roque join the Senate race, he will be the sixth Duterte Cabinet member to do so.
He will go against John Castriciones (Agrarian Reform Secretary), Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan (Information and Communications Technology Secretary), Salvador Panelo (Chief Presidential Legal Counsel), Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol (Mindanao Development Authority chairman), and Mark Villar (Public Works Secretary).
Official candidates of recognized political parties have until 15 November to field their substitutes.
Some political groups like PRP remain hopeful that Duterte-Carpio will join the presidential derby as a substitute candidate, just like what her father did in 2016.
“We in the PRP are hoping that Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte will heed the call of the people who have given their trust and support for her in presidential surveys,” David stressed.
The PRP is one of the four political parties that had committed to renew its coalition with the Hugpong ng Pagbabago, a regional party founded by Duterte-Carpio.
Meanwhile, David said the PRP will actively participate in next year’s elections by fielding 1,238 candidates for national and local posts.
The PRP official said the revived political party, formed by the late Miriam Defensor-Santiago, is in “the process of consolidating and strengthening the party and its line up of candidates from the senatorial down to kagawad.”
Teodoro, who had earlier intended to run as vice president, has yet to release a statement on his change of plans for the upcoming elections.
He filed his CoC for senator last 7 October through a representative after he tested positive for Covid-19.
In 2010, Teodoro ran for president but lost to then-Senator Noynoy Aquino, who is his second cousin.
Prior to his cabinet stint under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s presidency, he served as Tarlac province’s 1st district representative from 1998 to 2007.
David disclosed that Leoncio Evasco Jr., President Duterte’s longtime ally and Adviser for Streamlining of Government Processes, has been inducted as the new member of the party.
At the same time, Evasco is a member of the citizen’s movement “Hugpong Para Kay Sara” (HPS), which has been urging Duterte-Carpio to seek the presidency.
Evasco was also one of the people who convinced then-Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to run for president and later became the latter’s campaign manager.
Philippine Sports Commission chair William “Butch” Ramirez, who is a member of the HPS movement, also took oath as a new member of PRP.
According to David, Evasco is now the PRP’s vice president for operation while Ramirez is the vice president for the organization.
with Michelle Guillang