Dela Rosa met with Sara Duterte in 'private capacity', says PDP-Laban faction

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 26 2021 05:32 PM | Updated as of Oct 26 2021 07:32 PM

Sara Duterte-Carpio Dela Rosa
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa pose for a photo at the Davao City Hall. Dela Rosa's Facebook page

MANILA— Presidential aspirant Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa was acting in a "private capacity" when he discussed the 2022 elections with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio this week, a wing of the PDP-Laban said on Tuesday.

This amid earlier speculation that Duterte, daughter of incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte, may seek to succeed him via substitution even after announcing her reelection bid in Davao City. 

Dela Rosa earlier said it would be better if Duterte-Carpio ran for president in his place. During their meeting on Monday, he said he reminded the mayor of the Nov. 15 deadline for candidate substitution.

He had admitted he was told he was the party's presidential candidate just two hours before the deadline for filing certificates of candidacy on Oct. 8. 

"I believe that Senator Bato went to Digos yesterday and on his way, he made a courtesy call [on] Mayor Inday in his private capacity," said Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, leader of the PDP-Laban faction that fielded Dela Rosa as its 2022 standard-bearer. 

"Nirerespeto po natin kung ano mang pribadong bagay na napag-usapan nila... Siguro in the process of the conversation, ni-remind lang niya, sa kagandahang loob ni Senator Bato, ni-remind lang niya na Nov. 15 [ang deadline], just in case magbabago ang isip niya," he said in a press conference. 

(We respect whatever private issue they discussed. Perhaps in the process of the conversation, out of his goodness, Senator Bato reminded her the deadline is on Nov. 15, just in case she changes her mind.)

Cusi said he and the PDP-Laban have "no communication" with Duterte-Carpio on a potential substitution for the party's standard- bearer. 

The incumbent Duterte had done the same in 2016 after initially saying he wasn't running for president.

The President earlier said Duterte-Caprio would vie for the presidency with his longtime aide Sen. Christopher Go as running-mate.

But the mayor, who has topped surveys for the presidency, repeatedly said she would seek reelection.

Over the weekend, she met with another presidential aspirant, former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and discussed how her regional party could help his candidacy. 

"Maraming nagtutulak kay BBM (Marcos), marami nagtutulak kay Mayor Inday Sara, but we have our candidate," Cusi said.

(Many are pushing for BBM, for Mayor Inday Sara, but we have our own candidate.)

"Sa ngayon, si Bato ang aming pambato, siya iyong aming kandidato pagkapangulo. Unless something happens between now and the 15th, siya po iyong aming kandidato," he added.

(For now, Bato is our bet, he is our candidate for president. Unless something happens between now and the 15th, he is our candidate.)

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BACK TO ORIGINAL PLAN? 

The PDP-Laban faction earlier nominated Go as its standard-bearer with Duterte as its vice presidential candidate. But Duterte later said he was retiring from politics, prompting Go to run for the top 2 post in his place. 

Asked if the group was open to a change of heart on Duterte's retirement, Cusi said, "Kung magbabago ang isip ni Pangulong Duterte, we will go back to our plan 1, the original plan namin and that will be Bong Go-Duterte." 

"Sa ngayon, ayaw niya (Duterte)," he added. 

(If President Duterte changes his mind, we will go back to our plan 1, our original plan, and that will be Bong Go-Duterte. For now, he doesn't want it.)
 
The PDP-Laban wing backed by Duterte signed on Tuesday an alliance agreement for the 2022 polls with REFORM Party. 

REFORM president James Layug said the party endorsed Go for vice president, as well as former Cabinet secretaries Mark Villar, Gregorio Honasan II, and Greco Belgica for senator. 

With 80,000 members, REFORM supported the said candidates for the continuation of Duterte’s infrastructure drive and crackdown on crime, said Layug, a DICT assistant secretary. 

"For standard-bearer, our executive council is still in the selection process," Layug said, when asked why REFORM Party did not endorse Dela Rosa. 

Layug was a leader of the Magdalo group of soldiers that staged a botched 2003 mutiny against then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

His Magdalo brother and fierce Duterte critic Antonio Trillanes IV is seeking a Senate comeback in the 2022 elections. 

"Naka-align kami in support of the PRRD administration and his reform agenda. We respect iyong position ng ating dating kasama na si Senator Trillanes," Layug said. "Siguro marapat din na kami, kung ano man iyong magiging position namin ngayon that we believe is good for the country, that is our position right now."

(We are aligned in support of the PRRD administration and his reform agenda. We respect the position of our former comrade, Senator Trillanes. Perhaps it is only right that whatever our position is that we believe is good for the country, that is our position right now.)