MANILA — A faction of the PDP-Laban backed by President Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday it was watching his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio "with keen interest," days away from a deadline to change candidates for next year's presidential election.
Duterte-Carpio on Tuesday quit her plans to seek reelection in her home city, clearing the way for her to potentially seek higher office in the 2022 polls. Her ally lawmaker Joey Salceda said Wednesday she would likely run for president.
"PDP-Laban watches with keen interest the developments on Sara Duterte's decision to withdraw her certificate of candidacy for Davao City Mayor, especially considering the public support she enjoys," said Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, leader of the party faction backed by the President.
"In any event, her actions, including any decision to run for a national elective office, will most certainly affect the political landscape," Cusi said in a statement.
The Philippines will hold elections in May 2022 for positions from the level of president down to governors, mayors and local officials. The window for changing candidates closes on Nov. 15.
Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa, standard-bearer of the Duterte-backed PDP-Laban wing, earlier said it would be "better" if the President's daughter sought the No. 1 job in his stead.
But Cusi in October said Duterte-Carpio made it clear she would not run under PDP-Laban.
Dela Rosa's running-mate Sen. Christopher Go on Tuesday hinted at possible changes in the party's 2022 plans.
"Maaaring may magbabago sa mga tatakbong posisyon sa mga darating na araw,. Ang problema po d’yan, kailangan ko umiwas," he said in a speech in Antipolo City.
"Gustuhin ko man pong magsilbi sa inyo bilang bise presidente dahil sa kagustuhan ng mahal na pangulo, kailangan ko pong umiwas. Malalaman n’yo po ‘yan sa mga darating na araw," he added.
(There may be changes in candidacies in the next days. The problem is I have to steer clear. While I want to serve as your vice president because of the desire of our beloved President, I have to steer clear. You will know that in the next days.)
Analysts say it is crucial for Duterte to have a loyal successor to shield him from possible legal action from his anti-narcotics drive, which is being investigated by the International Criminal Court.
Duterte-Carpio, who has been widely tipped to run to succeed her father, did not say why she was withdrawing from the mayor contest, but told supporters on Facebook that further announcements would be made later.
The 43-year-old has come on top in opinion polls throughout this year on preferred candidates for president, but has said she does not want that job.
— With a report from Enrico Dela Cruz, Reuters