MANILA — Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa is running for the top job in the May 2022 elections, but said it would be "better" if President Rodrigo Duterte's daughter replaces him as standard-bearer.
Dela Rosa filed his certificate of candidacy under the PDP-Laban wing backed by Duterte.
"I am fielded by my political party, the PDP-Laban for reasons that wala na silang ibang nakita na magpapatuloy sa legacy ng ating Pangulong Duterte, iyong ating laban sa droga, kriminalidad, korapsyon at terorismo, at ang pagpatuloy sa pagbangon ng ating ekonomiya amidst the pandemic," Dela Rosa told reporters.
(They did not see anyone else that can continue the legacy of our President Duterte, the fight against drugs, criminality, corruption and terrorism, and our continued economic recovery.)
A former national police chief, Dela Rosa had led Duterte's drug war before he won a Senate seat in 2019. The International Criminal Court is looking into the alleged crimes against humanity under the anti-narcotics campaign that left thousands dead.
Asked about speculation that Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio will later run for president in his place, Dela Rosa said, "E 'di mas maganda."
(That will be better.)
"Pero this is a party decision, this is not my personal decision kasi kung ako lang masusunod, kung patatakbuhin nila ako, tatakbo pa rin ako," he quickly added.
(But this is a party decision, this is not my personal decision because if it is up to me, if they make me run, I will still run.)
He said he did not know if his party was negotiating with Duterte-Carpio, who belongs to regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP).
WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
The PDP-Laban faction's vice presidential bet Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go filed his COC last Saturday, the same day that Duterte said he was retiring from politics when he steps down in 2022.
Duterte-Carpio on the same day filed her candidacy for a third consecutive term as mayor of Davao City, a post her father held before the 2016 elections.
The Duterte said his daughter, who has led surveys for the top job, would vie for the No. 1 job with Go, his longtime aide, as running-mate.
Duterte-Carpio did not comment on her father's pronouncement.
But as recently as Thursday, she said she wanted to finish a third consecutive term as mayor of Davao City before serving in another post.
While the filing of candidacies closes this Friday, substitutions are allowed until Nov. 15. A substitute can take oath in the original candidate's party until this date.
Dela Rosa was wearing a green Hugpong shirt under a red jacket, the PDP-Laban color, when he filed his COC.
WHAT CRITICS SAY
Sen. Koko Pimentel, leader of the rival PDP-Laban wing, said the Duterte wing did not follow rules in its national convention.
"All their nomination processes were useless. Somebody who runs for president on a spur of the moment decision is not a serious candidate," he said in a statement.
Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said under the law, anyone who files a COC without a bonafide intention to run and only for the purpose of reserving the position for a substitute "shall be treated as a nuisance candidate."
That person's CoC shall then be cancelled and denied due course "as he is just making a mockery of our election process," he said in a statement.
"It does not matter if such person is rich or nominated by a political party, as long as it could be proven that he has no bonafide or genuine intention to run for such office or to merely reserve the position for another one, he can be declared as a nuisance bet," Macalintal argued.
"If a petition to declare him a nuisance is filed against him, he should not be allowed to withdraw and cannot be substituted during the pendency of the petition," he continued.
Asked if he was making a mockery of the elections when he said it would be better for Duterte-Carpio to replace him, Dela Rosa said, "Do I look like a mockery to you?"
"I won as a senator, number 5 po ako last election... Is that mockery?" he said.
(I was number 5 last elections.)