Cusi to Duterte: Why not run for senator?

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 27 2021 04:59 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte listens to a briefing given by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi during the inauguration of the 420-MW Pagbilao Unit 3 Power Project in Pagbilao, Quezon on May 31, 2018. Toto Lozano, Malacanang Photo/File
President Rodrigo Duterte listens to a briefing given by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi during the inauguration of the 420-MW Pagbilao Unit 3 Power Project in Pagbilao, Quezon on May 31, 2018. Toto Lozano, Malacanang Photo/File

MANILA — Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, the leader of a faction of the PDP-Laban, confirmed on Wednesday urging President Rodrigo Duterte to run for senator in the 2022 elections. 

This, despite Duterte's earlier move to back out of the vice presidential race and statement that he would retire from politics when his term ends in June next year. 

"Ngayon kung talagang hindi po tatakbo si Pangulo [bilang bise presidente], dahil talagang decided siya na ayaw na niyang tumakbo at ayaw na niyang sirain na iyong salita niya, sabi ko, 'Okay, takbo ka na lang ng senator para makapagdala ka ng pagbabago d'yan sa Senado,'" Cusi said in a media interview. 

(Now, if the President would not run (for vice president) because he is firm on his decision not to go back on his word, I said why not run for the Senate so he could bring change there?) 

"That will be good for the country," he added. 

If Duterte runs for senator, "he will be our campaign manager," said Cusi. 

"He will be our best campaign endorser, campaign manager," he said. 

Malacañang has yet to reply to a request for comment. 

Duterte's longtime aide, Sen. Christopher Go, is running for vice president, with Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa as standard-bearer. 

Dela Rosa "did not prepare" for a presidential run, Cusi admitted. 

"We don't consider that as a problem. Others might have the advantages, but it doesn't mean we couldn't catch up," he continued. 

Dela Rosa earlier admitted his party asked him to be standard just 2 hours before the deadline of candidacy filing last Oct. 8. 

He said it would be better if the President's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, runs for the top post in next year's polls as his substitute. 

Duterte also said his daughter would vie for the presidency with Go as running-mate. But the mayor, who has topped opinion polls for the presidency, repeatedly said she was seeking reelection.

Dela Rosa this week met with Duterte-Carpio. He said he reminded her of the Nov. 15 deadline for substitution. 

Cusi on Tuesday said Dela Rosa met with the President's daughter in a "private capacity." 

"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," Cusi said. 

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

Analysts say it is crucial for a loyal successor to replace Duterte in the 2022 elections and shield him from possible legal action over thousands of killings in his war on drugs, which the International Criminal Court is investigating. 

Duterte last week said Dela Rosa, who led the narcotics crackdown as national police chief from 2016 to 2018, was "nervous" about the ICC. The President said he takes "full responsibility" for the program. 

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