MANILA (UPDATED) - Senator Alan Peter Cayetano announced Tuesday that he is running for vice president in 2016.
"I am running for vice president of the Republic of the Philippines and I am putting my faith in God and to you, our people," Cayetano said during a press conference in Davao City.
"And I'm praying for a president who will make us proud and bring true change, tunay na pagbabago sa Luzon, Visayas at Mindanao."
Cayetano, a member of the Nacionalista Party (NP), earlier ruled out a bid for the presidency.
Cayetano had said he really wants to run under the NP, but the party has yet to decide who among him, Senator Bongbong Marcos and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV will be the party's official vice-presidential candidate.
Of the three NP senators, only Cayetano and Trillanes have so far joined the vice-presidential race. They will face current survey front runner, Sen. Francis Escudero.
Sen. Marcos, the son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, has yet to make up his mind. He, however, already declared that running for re-election is no longer an option for him.
Cayetano said he already talked to Trillanes about his decision to run for the same position and things remain amicable between the two of them.
Sen. Cynthia Villar, wife of NP chairman Manny Villar, earlier said there will be a ''free zone'' in the party in case all three decide to vie for the same post.
(READ: NP still undecided on 2016 plans: Villar)
Cayetano said NP members and officials will soon meet to finalize their plans for 2016, as the filing of certificates of candidacy looms.
NP's blessing, however, is not Cayetano's foremost concern, citing the party's multiple candidates and the faulty political party system in the country, where loyalties are shifting every election.
DUTERTE-CAYETANO IN 2016?
Cayetano was careful in answering questions about his preferred running mate in 2016, but it appeared that he is leaning towards Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
''Am I ready to announce that now? Like you, I am still waiting and praying and hoping that that person will run and that I may be able to support him one way or the other,'' Cayetano said.
''Give me some time as the political landscape is beginning to show, but siguro by now alam na ng mga tao kung sino ang may tunay na paninidigan, tapang para magbago ang ating bansa."
Duterte, who ranked fourth in the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia surveys, behind Senator Grace Poe, former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, and Vice President Jejomar Binay, remains undecided whether he will run or not for president.
After ''categorically'' ruling out a bid for president, Duterte said over the weekend that he needs more time to do some ''soul-searching." He, however, later clarified that his statement was taken out of context.
Cayetano noted that he and Duterte share the same core values, being both a supporter of federalism and ''real change."
''I haven't said who I want to support or how, but let me say na it's really up to Duterte (to decide). But I think it is the country who will lose if he doesn't file [his COC] as president,'' Cayetano said.
Cayetano said no informal talks have started between him and Duterte.
NO MORE MAR-ALAN
With Cayetano announcing his bid ahead of the Liberal Party's declaration of its full slate, the ruling party has lost an option for a running mate of its standard-bearer, Roxas.
Cayetano's decision not to run with Roxas leaves Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo as the only option for the LP standard bearer.
''We made our decision no to run with them. I don’t know if before or after pa nila nabanggit si Leni, may problema na ang usapan namin,'' he said.
Cayetano admitted that one of the reasons that the negotiations between him and the LP bogged down is their difference in principles.
''We did have flirtations. There were actual talks. In the end, my family, especially my siblings, my core supporters [felt] more comfortable either I will run as independent or with someone they are passionate about, rather than run with people that we share values with pero marami rin kaming complaints,'' he said.
''As I said, masyado naming naramdaman ang hirap at kakulangan ng malasakit sa ating kababayan."
Cayetano also noted that he and Aquino have talked to each other to clear the air, amid reports that the President does not want him to become Roxas' running mate following their supposed tiff in 2010 where the senator supposedly called Aquino's mental stability into question.
''Na-clear up na namin ng pangulo. I never called him names directly,'' Cayetano said, adding that the president was able to prove his detractors wrong with his work in the last five years.
'PRESIDENCY IS DESTINY'
Asked why he decided to run for the vice presidency instead of gunning for the country's top post, Cayetano said he felt that 2016 is not yet his year.
''There's a time for everything. When we reviewed our chances…nakikita ko na mayroong tatlo o apat na tinututukan ang ating kababayan,'' he said.
In the latest SWS vice-presidential poll, Cayetano ranked 5th (5%). The poll was topped by Poe, followed by her running mate, Sen. Francis Escudero.
In the Pulse Asia survey, meanwhile, Cayetano ranked fourth. The top three in the survey are Poe, Escudero, and Marcos.
Unfazed by his standing in the surveys, Cayetano said the voters need more options, and he sees himself as someone who can introduce real reforms.
''Kailangan ng tunay na pagbabago. There are a lot of good people running, pero kaya ba nila ang transformation na kailangan ng bansa?" he said.
''We always say we get the leaders we deserve, but the choices are important. Kung hindi sasali ang maraming choices we wil be left with only the choices we've been seeing."
Asked why he chose Davao City as the place to declare his candidacy, he said the city is the best model for peace and development in Mindanao. He added declaring his bid in Metro Manila would run counter to his advocacy of decentralizing the country's funds and government functions.
The senator is pushing for a reinvigorated Mindanao. He said the perks for the proposed Bangsamoro region should be given to all of Mindanao instead of a select group of areas.
Cayetano became one of the fiercest critics of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in the wake of the January 25 Mamasapano clash, which saw 44 elite policemen killed by Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) fighters and other lawless elements.