By ALFRED GABOT
Editor in Chief
DAVAO CITY/MANILA – The goal of the opposition coalition 1Sambayan for one common slate to trounce President Rodrigo Duterte’s candidate may just be a dream now as at least a three-way presidential race loomed large as the October filing of certificates of candidacy nears.
Or it could be a four-way race or even five if Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, now in a heated row with a faction in the administration party PDP-Laban is ousted as acting president that would trigger him to join the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), and Sen. Richard Gordon, another presidential aspirant, gets a vice presidential candidate to team up with him.
A sixth force even loomed after former Senate President Manny Villar, the richest Filipino by Forbes Magazine reckoning, appeared on television and radio ads with his son, Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, with his unsuccessful presidential bid song “narito na (they are here),” but there is no confirmation his Nacionalista Party (NP) would join the presidential race with him as standard bearer.
Already cast in the three-way race are the team of presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte who gets closer and closer to formally announcing her candidacy for president, the team of Vice President Leni Robredo with 1Sambayan and the Liberal Party, and the NPC’s tandem of Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
Mayor Duterte, who is considered the strongest candidate to succeed his father, President Rodrigo Duterte, on June 30 2022, based on organization, logistics and surveys, has a wide choice of vice presidential bet – Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez who is the Lakas-CMD president, and lately, former Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro. President Duterte had publicly endorsed Romualdez if he runs for vice president.
Meanwhile, a Robredo-Manila Mayor Isko Moreno (Francisco Domagoso) tandem loomed when the two leaders met during a Covid-19 vaccination program. Both, however, were mum on their respective political plans.
As this developed, support is growing for the possible tandem of Mayor Sara and Teodoro Jr. in next year’s national elections.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, meanwhile, said the administration party PDP-Laban can support Mayor Duterte in the presidential election even if she is not a card-bearing member of the party.
This as Deputy Speaker Jose Lito Atienza Jr. joined supporters of probable presidential candidate Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao as Pacquiao’s friend, former Ilocos Sur governor Luis Chavit Singson took his oath with the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) which may adopt the world boxing icon as standard bearer in the May 9, 2022 elections.
In his daily Facebook live feed, Atienza claimed that Pacquiao has the intelligence and heart to be the successor of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Former Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, meanwhile, stressed Pacquiao is best suited for the presidency.
It was highly publicized in Manila that Mayor Sara’s regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) has started talks with “several highly placed national officials” to discuss her possible presidential bid in next year’s polls.
This as the Lakas-CMD headed by Romualdez with former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as president emeritus renewed its coalition with Mayor Sara’s regional party and vowed to support her presidetial bid in case she finally decides to run for president.
In a national executive meeting held on June 23, top officials of the once dominant Lakas-CMD adopted a resolution that authorizes Romualdez to sign the renewal of their alliance agreement with the HNP with the end in view of “building a multiparty coalition intent on pursuing the political and socio-economic reforms laid out by the Duterte administration”.
“The 2022 election will see both parties working together once more for the common good but this time, hopefully, with more political parties on board,” Romualdez said. “May this new coalition usher in a new era of national unity, which we badly need to bounce back from the ravages wrought by the pandemic.
“I am aware that the officers of Hugpong ng Pagbabago are in talks with several highly-placed national officials regarding the 2022 elections. I am not privy to these discussions, but I was told that the meetings are about my candidacy for the presidential race in 2022,” Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said in a statement.
“I was assured that everyone involved in these talks will respect my decision if I decide against running for president,” she added.
The President had repeatedly dissuaded Sara from running, saying the presidency is not a job for a woman.
The Davao mayor had rejected joining a national political party amid rumors that the ruling PDP-Laban is considering her as standard bearer in next year’s.
Duterte-Carpio, 43, said she will remain with HNP and Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod, a Davao City local political party.
She thanked the Lakas-CMD after the party adopted a resolution to back her possible presidential bid.
“I would like to express my gratitude to Lakas CMD for the unconditional support. Daghang salamat kaninyong tanan!” Duterte-Carpio said.
Romualdez said his party Lakas-CMD will work for Duterte-Carpio’s victory if she runs next year.
“If Mayor Sara Duterte decides to seek higher office for 2022, we are ready to work for her victory in the coming election,” Romualdez said during a Lakas-CMD’s meeting.
He made the statement as the once dominant Lakas-CMD renewed its alliance with HNP party.
Romualdez said the alliance would bind Lakas and HNP to support whoever they decide to field as candidate for president in the 2022 elections.
“I call on other political parties to join us and be part of our mission to form a broad multi-party coalition anchored on shared principles. We need coalition partners that share the same vision of building a strong Republic through sustainable growth and development of the regions,” the lawmaker said.
In its adopted resolution, Lakas-CMD officials noted the importance of the party playing an active role in building a “strong republic” amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
The Lakas-CMD previously signed an alliance agreement with HNP on Nov. 7, 2018, which paved the way for their partnership in the 2019 national and local elections.
“The 2022 election will see both parties working together once more for the common good but this time, hopefully, with more political parties on board,” Romualdez said. “May this new coalition usher in a new era of national unity, which we badly need to bounce back from the ravages wrought by the pandemic.”
In a radio interview, Mayor Sara said that the presidency is not intended for a ‘woman’ like her.
Duterte quoted her father, President Duterte, who said the “presidency is not a woman’s job”.
“President Duterte said that the presidency is not a woman’s job so particularly [it’s] not for me. So if he decided to run for vice-president (VP), let’s not expect that he will get me as his running mate [since I am a woman],” she said.
She also confirmed that there are individuals who signified interest to be her running mate should she decide to run for president in next year’s polls.
“Yes, there are a lot of them who expressed their intent [to run for VP as my running mate], but I cannot answer them because there is no final answer yet,” she added.
Despite the cold feet in running for the country’s top post, the presidential daughter, however, thanked the continuous support poured unto her.
“To those who expressed their support, I thank you all for the trust and confidence you have given to me as a person and as a public official,” she added.