MANILA (5th UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte has accepted PDP-Laban's endorsement to run for vice president in 2022, the ruling party said Tuesday.
Duterte, 76, heeded “the clamor of the people and accepted the endorsement of the PDP Laban Party for him to run as Vice President in the 2022 National Elections," its executive vice president Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said in a statement.
The announcement was made by the PDP-Laban-Cusi wing weeks after its national executive committee adopted a resolution supporting a Bong Go-Rodrigo Duterte tandem for the 2022 elections.
Go said he was "still not interested" in running for president.
“Nakatutok ako sa aking tungkulin bilang senador upang tulungan ang bansa na malampasan ang krisis na ating hinaharap. Bakuna muna bago pulitika. Mas mabuti unahin niyo na muna yung mga interesado na tumakbong Pangulo,” he said.
(I'm focused on my responsibilities as a senator to help the nation overcome this crisis we're facing. Vaccine first before politics. Ask those who are interested in running for president.)
The resolution is set to be presented at the party’s September 8 National Convention in Bulacan, to be followed by the formal adoption of the said nomination.
The President earlier said the public should "consider" him as "a candidate for the vice presidency" in next year's polls.
Duterte said he would run for the country's second-highest post to achieve immunity from lawsuits, which critics said was only applicable to the President.
The Constitution bans only a former President from seeking re-election and this does not apply to other posts, his allies said. Opposition lawmakers said a Duterte vice presidential run would violate the spirit of the Constitution and that his true goal was to be a successor-president.
Sen. Richard Gordon, who is eyeing a possible presidential run next year, frowned upon the President’s acceptance of the so-called clamor for his vice-presidential bid, citing its negative implication to the country’s electoral system.
“A vice president can go for reelection. Now, if the president runs for vice president, certainly, it will be up for the people to accept that. Ako sa akin, out delicadeza, hindi ko gagawin 'yun (I won't do that),” Gordon said.
"If the President is doing that, he will be followed by many others in the country," he added.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, who will be running as vice president next year, was unperturbed by the development.
“That's good to know so that we are not guessing. It does not affect my resolve anyway,” he said.
His running mate Sen. Panfilo Lacson said he was also unaffected by the President's decision.
“It won’t matter to my and SP Sotto’s determination to run in the May 2022 national elections. We have already declared and at this point in time, there is no turning back,” he said.
“That said, we continue to hope that the electorate will not be swayed by entertainment politics nor affected by fear and intimidation when they choose our country’s next leaders. As long as the campaign runs on issues involving our people’s desire for good governance made possible by fixing a systematically broken government, we are good,” he added.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros also mocked Duterte's move and described it as an "even more grotesque version" of the "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" franchise.
She said the President could change his mind maybe "four to five times" before arriving at a decision whether to push through with his possible candidacy or not.
"Every party has its own process of candidate nomination... President Duterte started his presidential run with a whole lot of drama and it looks like he will be leaving us the same way - trying to confuse us, and all the more in search of a true leader," Hontiveros explained.
The senator agreed with Vice President Leni Robredo, saying that the country "cannot afford more of this very poor economic and pandemic response, which is simply a deadweight in our economy."
"Kulang na kulang sa health and economic measures, kulang na kulang din sa ayuda," she told ANC's Headstart Wednesday.
(Government severely lacks health and economic measures and aid.)
"Something's got to give. I think it should, I pray the election would give us that break, not only politically but economically as well."
Opposition coalition 1Sambayan, meanwhile, said they were no longer surprised with Duterte's decision to run for vice president next year.
The group said it showed how PDP-Laban "mocked" the Constitution and the country's democratic process, hoping that Filipinos would see through PDP-Laban's true intentions.
"The candidacy is both legally and morally wrong, and we trust that the Filipino people will realize his brazen, selfish and self-serving motives," the statement read.
They also alleged that Duterte's vice presidential bid is to escape his accountability from the International Criminal Court, where his flagship domestic policy War on Drugs is a subject of a possible investigation.
The ruling party also announced its initial senatorial slate composed of the following:
- SAGIP Party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta
- DICT Secretary Gregorio Honasan
- Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo
- Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade
- Public Works Secretary Mark Villar
- With reports from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News