Everybody was expectant and was just waiting for Rep. Manny Pacquiao to confirm and announce they are abandoning one ship and jumping into another.
After all, they believe the decision they will take will not only be best for their party. It is to the best interest of Mindanao that they align with many other local government officials in the island in supporting Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who is expected to file his certificate of candidacy for the presidency anytime next week. (READ: Duterte declaring in a few days?)
When the meeting at the private office of Pacquiao inside his expansive mansion was over, many were left hanging.
Pacquiao has been included in the ‘dream’ but lean ticket of 8 possible senatorial candidates in Duterte’s wish list.
But the Sarangani congressman told them Duterte was still undecided.
General Santos City Mayor Ronnel Rivera came in worried. He left still unable to tell which party they will align even though their local political party, the People’s Champ Movement (PCM), is a longtime ally of Vice President Jejomar Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
The city mayor in fact declared in a press conference the day earlier that his heart is with Duterte and will throw their support behind the maverick Davao City mayor if the latter decides to run for president.
Even Sarangani Gov. Steve Chiongbian Solon said a Duterte presidency will give Mindanao the attention and assistance it has been wanting but has been denied for decades, centuries even.
Like Rivera, Solon was also ready to affirm their party stand that once Duterte declares and files his certificate of candidacy, they will immediately swear in as member of the party that will officially nominate the Davao City mayor.
But first, they must secure a certificate of nomination and acceptance.
PDP-Laban regional party chair and former South Cotabato Gov. Mike Sueno has reportedly readied their certificate of nominations – both Rivera and Solon for their local slates. (READ: Duterte identifies senatorial candidates he will support)
The Certificat of Nomination and Acceptance (CONA) is crucial to a candidate seeking an elective post. The CONA of political parties now has to be submitted together with the certificates of candidacy otherwise their candidates will be declared independent. In which case, they will not be entitled to election watchers.
With Duterte issuing a cryptic message that only if he is seen at the Commission on Elections office can everybody consider him running for president, Rivera and his partymates are clueless. They are set to file their certificates of candidacies on Monday.
But Duterte’s continuing perceived indecision has many local parties and candidates in Mindanao in the bind.
Will they wait for Duterte until the last minute and take the risk of being denied party accreditation or align with the parties that now have 3 presumptive candidates – Binay’s UNA, the Liberal Party of Mar Roxas or the expected nomination of Grace Poe by the Nationalist People’s Coalition?
Take the Liberal Party out of the equation. It already has a full slate in the city. Senator Grace Poe has also not reached out to them. (READ: Roxas in Davao: ‘Daang Matuwid’ needs defending)
Mayor Rivera however said they will proceed with the filing of their COCs on Monday even if Pacquiao himself said Saturday evening he is filing his on Friday next week, October 16. He is leaving for New York tonight where he will speak before the United Nations.
But he did not hide his disappointment.
“We want to support Duterte but he also has to understand our predicament,” the city mayor said.
While just about everybody is waiting for a categorical statement from Duterte on whether he will run after all, insiders from the Davao city mayor’s camp is confident he will not disappoint.
Duterte spokesperson Peter Lavina said Mayor Duterte has been known to keep his political decisions very close to himself and to very few trusted people who will not preempt and force him to issue a statement.
But there is a clue. The source who was at the meeting Thursday evening, October 8, said that the debate and question over whether or not Duterte is running is over.
It has now become a question of when he is going to do it.
Duterte is one who genuinely feels that the decision is one serious matter that will make or break whatever little time there is left of his political life.
His hesitance is not a political ploy. He does not need it. He is being hounded by it.
As Lavina said, be patient because the mayor is fond of the biblical passage that “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die.”
In the meantime, everybody is waiting with bated breathe. But not for long. – Rappler.com
Edwin Espejo contributes to Rappler.
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