The Philippines will hold its next election for president in 2022, and the country’s incumbent top leader may not be ready to exit the scene.
Speculations are rife in political circles that President Rodrigo Duterte could end up as the new Vice President.
Duterte may yet run as second stringer to either his daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara “Inday” Duterte or trusted aide and Senator Christopher “Bong’ Go.
Members of Duterte’s ruling PDP-Laban Party have signed a resolution urging the president to run for office again in 2022, this time as vice president.
“It is recognized by leaders and members that with President Dutere’s steadfast leadership and the strong public support for his agenda of change, the government will be able to expeditiously and effectively deliver our people, our communities, our economy, back to good health,” read the resolution dated March 8, 2021.
Senator Manny Pacquiao, PDP-Laban acting president, shot down the resolution as “not authorized.”
Pacquiao is said to be himself nurturing plans to run for president in 2022.
The president’s daughter, Sara, has emerged as the presidential and vice presidential frontrunner in the May 2022 elections based on recent surveys.
Meanwhile, former opposition senator Antonio Trillanes IV wants Duterte and his daughter to run as a tandem in the 2022 national elections, so they will lose.
Trillanes said he is looking forward to the defeat of the two Dutertes in the upcoming polls if ever they will decide to run as a tandem for vice president and president.
“I’d encourage them to do that, and they have every right to do that and in fact ideally I would want them to be rejected in the 2022 elections. So it’s even preferable for Mr. Duterte to run for vice president, for Sara Duterte to run for president. We are looking forward to that rejection, to their rejection in 2022,” Trillanes said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.
According to Trillanes, the popularity of Duterte as president is going down based on an “internal polling.”
“I disagree with the premise that he is still acceptable because we are conducting our own internal polling and his numbers are significantly down and continuously declining at a very steep rate,” the former senator said.
Also, a pro-democracy coalition has been launched with the objective of presenting a challenge to whoever will be anointed by Duterte in the 2022 election.
The coalition was launched by retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.
“This government is really incompetent. They’ve been tested and everybody’s saying kulelat sila. So, we have to offer a better alternative for people because we don’t want the same thing to happen again in the next six years,” Carpio said during the launch of the 1Sambayan coalition.
Aside from Carpio, other convenors include retired Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, former Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Jesuit priest Fr. Albert Alejo, retired Rear Admiral Rommel Ong, former Negros Occidental Governor Rafael ‘Lito’ Coscolluela, former Commission on Audit Commissioner Heidi Mendoza, former lawmaker Neri Colmenares, Atty. Howard Calleja, Partido ng Manggagawa’s Rene Magtubo and Ricky Xavier.
“The Filipino people deserve a better government. There are Filipino leaders who can do a much better job of running the government, reviving the economy, creating jobs for our people, and defending our territory and sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea,” Carpio said.
Recently, the government’s Philippine News Agency (PNA) and a few other news outlets carried a story about the result of a privately-commissioned Pulse Asia survey showing that if elections were held today, the winning tandem would be Go for president and President Duterte for vice president.
A day after the release of the Pulse Asia survey, which was conducted February 10 to 19, Duterte disclosed in Dumaguete-Sibulan airport in Negros Oriental that Go had asked him to tell the people about his desire to be president of the country.
While introducing officials with him, including Go, Duterte shared: “When we were on our way here, he said, ‘please talk to the people, tell them that I want to run for president.’ So, Bong.”
The Philippine Constitution says: “The President and the Vice President shall be elected by direct vote of the people for a term of six years, which shall begin at noon on the thirtieth day of June next following the day of the election and shall end at noon of the same date six years thereafter. The President shall not be eligible for any reelection. No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time.”
Duterte and Go can say that the Constitution does not say that one who has served as president cannot run as vice president.
The Pulse Asia survey showed that a Go-Duterte tandem earned the highest voter preference, getting the nod of 32 percent of the respondents nationwide.
The pair received the highest score in Mindanao (62 percent), followed by the Visayas (39 percent), Metro Manila (21 percent), and Balance Luzon (18 percent).
The possible pairing of Senator Grace Poe and Senate President Vicente Sotto III is second on the list of voters’ preferred presidential and vice presidential candidates, obtaining 32 percent.
Next to the Poe-Sotto pair are the possible tandems of former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao (17 percent), as well as of Senator Panfilo Lacson and Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso (11 percent).
The possible tandem of Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo and Senator Francis Pangilinan got the lowest voter preference at eight percent.
In his commentary show “Counterpoint”, Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said he believed that Go is already “ripe” for the 2022 presidential derby.
Panelo said Go, being Duterte’s long-time aide before getting elected as a senator, has been able to acquire all the qualities needed to be the country’s leader.
“Hinog na rin si Senator Christopher Bong Go na maging presidente sapagkat yung mga kakayahan at qualities ni Presidente ay nailipat na sa kaniya (He is already ripe to become president because the President has been able to pass on to Go all the qualities he has),” he said.
On February 26, Panelo first floated the possible Go-Duterte tandem, saying Go is also qualified to be Duterte’s successor in 2022 and can continue the President’s legacy.
He said Go’s competence should not be underestimated, noting that the senator has had an “on-the-spot” training with Duterte.
“Huwag ninyong mamaniin ang pagtakbo ni Senator Christopher ‘Bong’ Go bilang presidente. Baka kayo ay magkamali diyan (Do not belittle Senator Christopher ‘Bong’ Go when he runs for president. It would be a mistake do that),” he said.
Duterte, in a speech delivered in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental on March 5, praised Go and even called the senator “president.”
In a March 5 statement issued in response to Duterte’s statement, Go said he has no plan to run for president in 2022.
The possible tandem of President Duterte and his daughter Sara may face challenges in the 2022 general elections, a political analyst said.
“There’s an inherent problem there because both are from Mindanao. Mindanao has a very low number of voters,” Ramon Casiple of consulting and research firm Novo Trends PH.
“Considering this will be a strong election, meaning there are other candidates who are possible winners, for me, it’s a negative factor if it’s a Duterte-Duterte.”
However, Casiple noted that talks of Duterte and his daughter running in next year’s polls could be a trial balloon. The President’s camp may also be trying to smoke out their possible rivals.
“At this point in time, it’s more of an inner party development and also trying to bait the other groups to come out with their own candidate so that you can be sure who the possible are the ones would be running,” he said.
Duterte turned 76 years old on March 28.