MANILA - A ranking official of Lakas-CMD on Tuesday denied saying that the party fielded "placeholders" for next year's presidential and vice presidential race.
Lakas-CMD secretary general and Surigao del Sur 1st district Rep. Prospero Pichay Jr. said he was not asked about "placeholders" but if the party would field Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio should she decide to run.
"The question was if Sara will run for president and decide to run under your party and I said, yes, yes. There was no question about placeholders. In the first place, I don’t even understand the word placeholders after you mentioned it today," he told ANC's Headstart.
On October 8, a certain Anna Capella Velasco and Lyle Fernando Uy filed COCs for president and vice president under the political party of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
In a phone interview on Monday, Pichay was asked by ABS-CBN News if Velasco and Uy are merely placeholders. He replied, "Oo, oo," adding, Velasco is Lakas-CMD's executive director while Uy is a "member."
He also told House reporters on the same day that Velasco and Uy were actually placeholders as they have yet to decide who to field for President. “You know, we’re just trying to file so that just in case may gustong tumakbo presidente under Lakas ay mayroon tayong maipakita (someone under Lakas wants to run for president, we are prepared).”
“You can say that, but the final cards will come out after Nov. 15. After Nov. 15, alam na natin talaga kung sino ‘yung seryoso na players. Then the party will convene and decide who to support," he added.
(After Nov. 15, we would already know who are the serious players.)
In the ABS-CBN News phone interview, Pichay said, "Wala kaming standard bearer (We don't have a standard bearer). We will adopt a candidate but we don't know yet until Nov. 15."
"We have potential candidates, we haven't made up our minds... We will wait, we don't know yet anong mangyayari (what will happen)," he added.
He disclosed that Senator Bong Revilla is among potential candidates "but he has not decided also."
"We can also consider Bongbong Marcos," said Pichay. However, Marcos has already filed a COC for president under the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas.
In Tuesday's interview, Pichay said "the party will be "forced to try to field" Velasco and Uy if it does not find "other" candidates.
"If there are no other candidates, then we will be forced o try field them as presidential and vice presidential candidates. Maybe, you'll say Lakas is crazy, but this is a crazy world," he said.
"We put up a candidate. But if there are other candidates whose ratings are high, then we can consider them."
Pichay said he believes the prevailing substitution rule should be amended.
"I would say yes, we would like to change the rule. We have to go back to the previous so that we will be really able to come up with candidates that will really run for president," he said.
"This business of substitution is creating a game of chess among the parties."
Under Comelec en banc resolution 10717, dated Aug. 1, 2021, aspirants who are members of a political party or coalition who were able to file COC can withdraw and be substituted until Nov. 15, 2021.
President Rodrigo Duterte made a late entry in the 2016 presidential race as a substitute candidate.
Lakas-CMD last June said it was set to renew its alliance with Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP), the regional party of Duterte-Carpio. The two parties have been in alliance since 2018, but it is unclear if the partnership was renewed for the 2022 polls.
Duterte-Carpio is known to enjoy close ties with Arroyo, Lakas-CMD's president emeritus, and was said to be instrumental in the latter's ascent as House Speaker in 2018.