MANILA — A faction of the PDP-Laban backed by President Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday it would "soon" pick a new standard-bearer for the 2022 elections, after his preferred successor Sen. Christopher Go announced he would withdraw his candidacy.
"PDP Laban basic principles will lead the party in determining the rightful candidate to support because after all, it is not a personality we support, but an opportunity given to someone who will hold the country’s future in his hands," said the faction's president, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.
"As has been the process, we will consult the party members and our constituents as to our next step and will soon come up with a decision," he said in a statement.
Go, Duterte's longtime aide, said on Tuesday he was dropping out of next year's presidential race because he did not want the President to be "trapped in the middle."
The President's daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio is running for vice president in tandem with former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.
Duterte said he was displeased with his daughter's move to seek the No. 2 job because of her previous lead in surveys for the presidency. He even threatened to challenge her in the vice presidential race, but ended up registering as a substitute candidate for senator.
Recently, Duterte dubbed Marcos a "weak leader" while touting Go as "honest."
Political observers say Go's withdrawal from the race would likely benefit the Marcos/Duterte-Carpio ticket as it would consolidate the Dutertes' voter base behind the 43-year-old mayor and that support could extend to Marcos.
"There is no more confusion in terms of administration support," said Aries Arugay, visiting fellow at the ISEAS Yusof-Ishak Institute and political science professor at the University of the Philippines.
Asked whether PDP-Laban would support Marcos and Duterte-Carpio, the President's acting spokesman Karlo Nograles said, "We have not yet made that decision.
"Hintayin muna natin ang magiging decision ng partido... kasi kailangan dumaan din sa proseso iyan," Nograles, who is executive vice president of PDP-Laban, told ANC's Headstart.
(Let us wait for the decision of the party because that needs to go through the process.)
Analysts have said Duterte wants to ensure an ally succeeds him so he can be insulated from potential legal action at home or by the International Criminal Court, which has launched a probe into the thousands of killings in his "war on drugs".
Marcos is up against other presidential aspirants, including former boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, Vice President Leni Robredo, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, and Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
The son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos is facing several disqualification cases.
— With a report from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News; Reuters