VP CANDIDACY. President Rodrigo Duterte says he is “seriously” considering accepting the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan’s call to seek the vice presidency during his meeting with the ruling party executives and other government officials at Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang, Manila on July 5, 2021. Duterte said he has to consider several factors before making the final decision. (Screengrab from RTVM)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has bared that he is “sold to the idea” of joining the 2022 vice presidential race.

Duterte made the admission during his meeting with the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) executives and other government officials at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang, Manila on Monday night.

Duterte said he is “seriously” considering accepting the PDP-Laban’s call to seek the vice presidency, but stressed that he also has to consider several factors.

“To the proposition that I run for vice president, medyo (somehow) I’m sold to the idea. So meaning to say, I am seriously thinking of running for vice president but let me dwell into the reality of things,” he said.

Should he decide to seek the second top post in the country, Duterte said he wants to have a good working relationship with the next president.

Duterte said his successor “must be a friend of mine whom I can work with”.

“Kung tatakbo akong bise presidente, hindi ko kaibigan ‘yung maging presidente (If I run for vice president and the next president is not my friend), I would be reduced to inutility,” he said.

In case the next president will come from the opposition and he decides to gun for vice president, Duterte said he would just focus on making a way to “be productive and just see to it that the Filipinos are not really pushed [to the] wall”.

“If I run as vice president which you want me to do so, maybe I will, but huwag na tayong mag-promise ng mga pabahay, lahat ganoon (let’s not make any promises of granting anything, like housing). We just address the present agony and sorrow of the Filipino,” Duterte said.

On May 31, the PDP-Laban adopted a resolution calling on Duterte to run for vice president and choose the party’s standard-bearer in the 2022 national elections.

“The people on the ground, Mr. President, wanted a transition of leadership that will guarantee continuity of the economic and infrastructure projects established under the Duterte Administration. These petitions and resolutions coming from various local governments, from the islands of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, representing PDP-Laban members and members of other political parties are now presented here to urge and convince you, Mr. President, to run for vice president and to choose your running mate for president in 2022 national elections,” Party vice chairman Alfonso Cusi said as he read the resolution during the meeting.

Go for president pushed

Some PDP-Laban members, many of them joined the meeting via Zoom, also called on Senator Christopher “Bong” Go to consider running for president to assure “continuity” of the government services, programs, and projects started by Duterte.

At sabihin ko na rin po na kung tatakbo po kayong vice president, unanimous po ‘yong mga leaders po sa Pangasinan na sana po ang piliin po ninyong kandidato for president ay si Senator Bong Go po. Iyon po ang pinaparating po nila, Mr. President (I want also to say that if you will run as vice president, the leaders in Pangasinan are unanimous in asking that you choose Senator Bong Go for president. That’s what they want me to relay to you, Mr. President),” PDP-Laban vice president for international affairs Raul Lambino said.

Sulu Governor Abdusakur “Sakur” Tan said local leaders in his province have also been supporting possible Go-Duterte tandem in the 2022 elections.

At paborito nila itong si Senator Bong Go rin, sir (Senator Bong Go is their favorite). And you cannot separate Senator Bong Go from President Duterte,” Tan said.

Go thanked his party mates for considering his name but for now, he would leave his fate to God as he appealed to fellow government officials to address first the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Anyway, I leave my fate to God. I leave my fate to the Dutertes, sila po ang malaking utang na loob ko po sa kanila, at sa Pilipino dahil sa Pilipino sila po ang nagbigay sa akin ng pagkakataon na makapagserbisyo sa inyo bilang senador. So unahin ko muna ‘yong pagseserbisyo ngayon, unahin muna natin itong pandemyang ito (I owe a lot to them, and to the Filipino people who gave me the opportunity to serve as senator. So, So let me prioritize my service now, let's prioritize this pandemic),” he said.

Thankless job

Go said he has no ambition to become president which he described as a “thankless job.”

“Kita ko mismo si Pangulong Duterte nagtatrabaho ng 24 oras sa isang araw. Napakahirap po ng trabaho ng isang pangulo. Thankless job, gagawin mo ang tama, isang katutak na batikos ang aabutin mo. Nagkamali ka naman, babatikusin ka rin (I personally saw President Duterte working 24 hours a day. A president’s job is very hard. Thankless job, you will do the right thing, it will cost you a lot of criticism. You make a mistake, you will be criticized too),” he said.

He urged his party mates to consider him last, adding “I am not interested to run for the presidency.”

Duterte initially expressed reluctance to seek the vice presidency, as he sought to retire as president and return to his hometown, Davao City, after his term ends in June next year.

Duterte also repeatedly said he would wait for the announcement of House Majority Leader and Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin Romualdez who might also join the vice presidential derby next year.

He said he had already told Romualdez that he is ready to support the lawmaker if the latter decides to seek the second top national post.

However, Duterte on July 1 said the public can now consider him as a vice presidential “candidate” to “maintain the equilibrium for all”. (PNA)