Lawyer on Duterte: 'It ain't over until it's over'

ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- There's still a chance Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte will end up in the presidential race even if he does not file his certificate of candidacy (COC) this week, Atty. Salvador Panelo said Tuesday.

In an interview on DZMM, Panelo clarified that Duterte cannot be accused of being fickle-minded, as he has never said he will run for president.

"Ever since naman, hindi naman niya sinabi na tatakbo siya. Never, in all his speaking engagements, sinabi niya na tatakbo siya. Ang palagi niyang sinasabi, kaya siya lumalakad sa buong Pilipinas, ay para iadvocate 'yung federalism. Ang tao ang gustong patakbuhin siya," he explained.

He added that the clamor for Duterte to run as president comes from his supporters.

"May clamor siya kasi ito 'yung panahon na kailangan siya. Malaki ang problema ng bansa ngayon, at ang perception ng tao, rightly or wrongly, siya lang ang pwedeng tumayong leader para magbigay ng tunay na kaayusan at kasaganahan ng Pilipinas. Mayroon siyang role model eh, mayroon siyang Davao," Panelo said.

DUTERTE'S 3 WOMEN

According to Panelo, there is still a chance that Duterte may run for president, provided the conditions are right.

One of the issues Panelo mentioned is the fact that three women in Duterte's life - his daughter, Sara; his first wife, and his second wife - are all against a presidential bid.

"Noon pa, sinasabi na ni Mayor Duterte, I cannot run for president if my daughter Sara will not run for mayor. Hindi ko maaring pabayaan ang Davao. Si Sara lang ang pwede kong pagkatiwalaan na ituloy ang takbo ng Davao," Panelo said.

Duterte's first wife, Elizabeth Abellana Zimmerman, as well as his partner, Honeylet Avancena, are not in favor him joining the race.

Aside from these factors, Duterte also worries about campaign funds.

"Eh kung umoo na 'yung pamilya? I think he's also afraid na mangyari sa kanya 'yung nangyari kay Gibo (Teodoro), who in the middle of the campaign, ran out of campaign funds," Panelo said, adding that Duterte, in principle, does not want to accept funds from businessmen to avoid having "utang na loob."

Panelo also said that Duterte's "fickle-mindedness" may be a political tactic.

"It may be his tactical strategy, using reverse psychology," he said, adding that Duterte remains popular, despite openly saying he will not run.

"Well, as we say, it ain't over until it's over," Panelo said.

Panelo thinks Duterte is still "running."

"He's still running, either running away from, or running towards Comelec," he said.

He also explained that there is still a chance that Duterte may end up part of the presidential race, even if he does not file his certificate of candidacy by October 16.

"Hindi lang 16 ang deadline, kasi mayroon tayong tinatawag na substitution," Panelo said.

"Kapag ang PDP-Laban, nagfile sila ng isang kandidato for president, pwede silang magwithdraw at ilagay si Mayor Duterte diyan, beyond the 16th [of October]," he added.