MANILA (UPDATE)—The withdrawal of Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go from the presidential race shows that the ruling administration party has no clear bet in the 2022 elections, a political analyst said Wednesday.
Go's announcement on Tuesday has left a faction of the PDP-Laban headed by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi without a standard-bearer, said Dr. Aries Arugay, a political science professor in UP Diliman.
"Hindi ko binibili 'yung sense na ito ay planado kasi kung totoong may plano at kung totoong may stratehiya, sa tingin ko, it was badly implemented," he told TeleRadyo.
(I don't buy it that this was planned because if there's truly a plan and a strategy, I think it was badly implemented.)
In August, the PDP-Laban Cusi wing endorsed Go to run for the country's highest elective post, which the senator later declined.
Instead, Go, Duterte's longtime aide, filed his candidacy for vice president in October. The party's presidential bet then was Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa.
Before the voluntary substitution ended, Go withdrew his candidacy and ran for president instead under the Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan due to the unresolved row between the ruling party's 2 factions.
Dela Rosa then dropped out of the presidential race.
Duterte also announced he was running for senator despite earlier pronouncements he was retiring from politics.
Arugay described the turn of events as chaotic, which he said could turn off voters.
"Imbes na ang pinag-uusapan natin ay 'yung kampanya na sana, mga issues kung paano tayo makakabangon sa pandemya, paano natin maatupag 'yung ekonomiya natin, hanggang ngayon 'yung kaguluhan pa rin kung sino ang tatakbo ang pinag-uusapan," he said.
(Instead of discussing the campaign, issues on how we can recover from the pandemic and look after the economy, until now they're still stuck on who are they fielding in the elections.)
Arugay said Go's exit from the presidential race could benefit the tandem of former Sen. Bongbong Marcos and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
He believed the administration and other parties had decided to consolidate their efforts for the 2022 polls.
"Nawala na 'yung balakid na 'yun so dere-derecho po 'yung solid supposedly na kini-claim ng Marcos Jr at Sara Duterte tandem na solid north at solid south vote sila," Arugay said.
(That obstacle has been removed so the claim of Marcos Jr and Sara Duterte tandem of solid north and solid south vote could prove true.)
For Dr. Carlita Carlos, also a political science professor in UP Diliman, Go dropping from the presidential race was not surprising.
"Ako hindi na rin nagulat kasi alam natin ang circumstances kung paano siya bigla nalang nag-run for the top position. It was not surprising at all 'yung kaniyang withdrawal," she also told TeleRadyo.
(I'm not surprised because we knew the circumstances on his decision to suddenly run for the top position. His withdrawal was not surprising at all.)
Analyzing Go's statement, she said the senator was "very conflicted".
"I hope all of the candidates would have those realization kasi (because) you can't just shoot for the top position of the land and you have nothing between your ears," Carlos said.
She stressed the Philippines needs a President "who is wily, [a] strategist, who knows how to negotiate [and] who reads widely."
"It seems we're scraping [the] bottom [of the barrel]," she added.
This development also puts into question Duterte's political capital.
"Does he still have the wherewithal to do any endorsement and will it matter?" she said.