MANILA—A faction of ruling party PDP-Laban is urging President Rodrigo Duterte to run for senator in the 2022 elections to bring his style of leadership in the chamber, its party president said Thursday.
"Kung hindi po namin siya makakasama na tumakbo bilang bise presidente, hinihimok namin siya tumakbo bilang isang senador para po magdala naman ng kaniyang style of leadership in the Senate that will revolutionize ang kuwan po ng Senado," Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi told TeleRadyo.
(If we can't have him as our vice president, we are urging him to run as senator so he can bring his style of leadership in the Senate that will revolutionize the Senate.)
Cusi disclosed the party's proposal was already conveyed to Duterte, who had repeatedly announced he would retire from politics when his term ends in June next year.
He said Duterte's possible Senate run was meant to bring "real change" in the upper House.
"Talagang (Definitely) a senator that would bring or represent the real interest of the majority of the people," he said.
Cusi also dismissed claims that the candidacy was meant to exact revenge against his critics, who had launched investigations into alleged misuse of government funds in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"That will be a total disservice to the nation, to the public. Napakababaw po 'yun (That's very shallow). You don't deserve to be in the Senate kung ikaw ay sinususian lamang ng isang bagay na paghihiganti (if you only want revenge) or you are just representing an interest," he said.
Should Duterte decide to run as senator, Cusi said the party's senatorial bets were willing to give way.
"I'm sure that one of them will be ready to give way to the President to make the sacrifice kung talagang tatakbo si Pangulo (if the President will run)," he said.
Among the party's Senate contenders are actor Robin Padilla, presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo and broadcaster Rey Langit.
Sen. Koko Pimentel, leader of the rival PDP-Laban wing, slammed Cusi's move of persuading Duterte to run as senator as "desperation".
"Shows desperation on the part of Cusi and his group," he said in a statement.
"They give [the] impression that they do not have strong candidates within their group and that they are all simply riding on and are totally dependent on the popularity and strength of personality of the incumbent president."
"That for us is ‘personality politics’ which we want to see ended here in PH as soon as possible," Pimentel added.
The senator stressed that leaders should aspire for issue-based politics.
"The good future of our country is better assured by a program of government approved by the people thru their votes than by blind loyalty to a mortal person with the expectation of a return favor," he added.