MANILA – Ruling party PDP-Laban official Alfonso Cusi said the endorsement of the supposed presidential bid of Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go and the vice-presidential run of President Rodrigo Duterte is a not a smokescreen for a potential presidential run by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Cusi said this after PDP-Laban executive director Ron Munsayac, an ally of Senator Manny Pacquiao, said that the Go-Duterte tandem is a smokescreen for a presidential bid of Duterte's daughter.
"We have 100,000 nationwide consultations. Tingin po ng karamihan ng mga kapartido namin na etong [Go-Duterte] tandem ay parang smokescreen lamang para sa isang Sara Duterte presidency,” Munsayac told ABS-CBN News on Tuesday.
Pacquiao’s faction in PDP-Laban has said it will not support the Go-Duterte tandem as the party's supposed standard-bearers for the 2022 national elections.
“That is purely speculation, a figment of their imagination. There is no truth to that because we are working for the party’s interest,” Cusi, the country's Energy secretary, told ANC’s “Dateline Philippines.”
Cusi said PDP-Laban is pushing for party politics as it seeks continuity of policies implemented under Duterte’s term.
He noted that PDP has been pushing for party politics since Duterte assumed office in 2016.
“That’s why now, with the president being the vice president, the party will be able to see to it that the program that has been started by the president will continue if the president that is elected is coming also from PDP,” said Cusi.
“In party politics, we can make sure that leaders are changing, people are changing but the programs continue. And that is what we want in PDP,” he explained.
Cusi said they picked Go, a longtime aide of Duterte, as a presidential candidate because of his working relationship with the president.
“We’ve been seeing that Bong Go has been working with the President for more than 20 years. And he has, as we call it, he has been on the OJT for 20 years and he will be able to perform the work of the president well,” he said.
“I think he has learned the job well and he can perform and he can carry out the work. And you can see based on his work in the Senate, he was able to pass the Malasakit Law and is very much effective and working for the benefit of the people. You can see, he knows what he’s doing,” Cusi said.
PDP-Laban Visayas Lutgardo Barbo had agreed with Munsayac’s statement.
“Are they serious na si Bong Go ay gawing president? Kasi ang pagkaintindi ko, Sara ang kanilang bini-build up because there are speculations that Bong Go will have to give way to Sara,” Barbo said in a separate interview.
“Mukhang ginagawa lang play thing, laruan lang ang pulitika. Assuming na Bong Go at Duterte, and let's say na nanalo sila, it is not beyond speculation to say that Bong Go can give in to the president,” he added.
Barbo, one of the original PDP-Laban members when the party was founded, said many party “originals” are against the Go-Duterte tandem.
“Parang malaswa yata 'yung Bong Go at saka Duterte. Parang merong political sense of propriety na hindi aprubado ng mga disenteng mga tao. I think they are making politics as some kind of a play thing, laruan lang na pwede tayong lansihin,” Barbo said.
Critics pointed out that having two Dutertes in the country's top two elective posts is a form of political dynasty, which is prohibited in the Constitution although not backed by an enabling law.
Cusi said no outsiders are being considered by the PDP-Laban for the presidency.
Duterte-Carpio is the chairman of regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago. At least 7 parties have pledged to support her should she decide to seek the presidency.