‘As of today,’ it’s Dela Rosa-Go for Cusi’s PDP-Laban

Bea Cupin

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‘As of today,’ it’s Dela Rosa-Go for Cusi’s PDP-Laban

RULING PARTY. Senator Ronald dela Rosa, former chief of the national police, will be running for president under PDP-Laban's Cusi wing.

Albert Calvelo/Senate PRIB file photo

But the faction says it's prepared for ‘any changes’ before the deadline to substitute candidates on November 15

Final, but not really? 

The PDP-Laban faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said on Friday, October 15, that “as of today,” the group is “100%” sure that it’s fielding senators Ronald dela Rosa and Bong Go as their presidential and vice presidential candidates.

But in the same breath, party secretary-general Melvin Matibag said they’re “open to possibilities” until November 15, or the deadline for parties to substitute their candidates. 

The Cusi faction had earlier defended the “political strategy” of substituting candidates as they pointed out that the law allows it. (READ: Should the Comelec prohibit the substitution of candidates?)

The Omnibus Election Code of 1985 allows parties to substitute a candidate if its original bet “dies, withdraws, or is disqualified for any cause.” Based on Comelec Resolution No. 10717 that was released on August 18, substitution due to withdrawal is allowed until November 15. Substitution due to disqualification or death is permitted until midday of election day, in this case May 9, 2022, as long as the substitute has the same surname as the original candidate.

Even after Dela Rosa and Go filed their candidates for president and vice president, critics and analysts continued to speculate that the Cusi wing still plans to field different candidates for the posts.

It doesn’t help that Dela Rosa himself had said that he wants presidential daughter Sara Duterte to run for president and that he’s willing to slide down should she change her mind. Sara is running for her third and last consecutive term as Davao mayor

Matibag said they were not in talks with Sara Duterte, adding that someone had attempted to open talks but this “did not materialize.”  

Matibag, speaking at a news forum, said the ruling party’s Cusi faction is in talks with several major political parties, including the Nacionalista Party (NP), which Duterte-endorsed senatorial bet Mark Villar is a member of. Villar was Duterte’s public works and highways chief. Matibag said they were in talks with at least two others national parties but declined to name them as of posting. 

The Cusi faction has also inked alliances with numerous local parties ahead of the 2022 campaign period. 

The ruling party – or at least the faction led by Cusi – had a memorable certificates of candidacy (COC) filing week. On October 2, Go filed his vice presidential candidacy, despite being nominated to be the party’s standard-bearer. President Rodrigo Duterte, who was nominated to run for vice president, said he’d retire from politics instead. Then on October 8, with just over an hour before the deadline of filing, the party announced that Dela Rosa, former police chief, would be running for president. Dela Rosa himself only found out about the party’s decision two hours before the deadline.  

They’ve insisted that Dela Rosa is no placeholder and that he had always been mentioned in discussions as possible standard-bearer.

The Cusi faction has yet to announce its platform for 2022 although they are expected to be running on the promise of continuing Duterte’s programs and policies, including the deadly war on drugs.

Both Dela Rosa and Go are set to go on a PDP-Laban caravan that’ll kick off in Iligan City. Duterte, who is also party chairman, is expected to join the gathering. – Rappler.com 

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.