Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III (PNA photo by Joey Razon)

MANILA – Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Wednesday said he is not closing his doors to running in next year's polls, despite skipping the filing the certificate of candidacy (COC) period last week.

“There is a possibility. It will depend on what will be good for our country. If the opportunity will come, probably I would consider it. But in the meantime, I'm taking care of this very big problem of our workers first. The number of job losses, so many,” Bello said in a virtual forum.

The labor chief said it was his brother, Silvestre Jr., who filed his candidacy for senator under the ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) on October 8, the last day of the filing period.

“That's my brother. I can't stop him,” he said.

The DOLE chief added that he was quite surprised when he learned that his brother filed his COC.

“It was not mentioned to me. I haven't talked to my brother for a long time because he’s been a little sad since my sister-in-law died, his wife. He recluses a bit,” Bello said.

Bello was earlier named as among the administration's senatorial candidates in next year's polls.

The PDP-Laban's senatorial candidates who filed their COC on October 8 include House Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission chair Greco Belgica, former secretaries John Castriciones (Agrarian Reform), Gregorio Honasan (Information and Communications Technology), actor Robin Padilla, and broadcaster Rey Langit.

Another administration senatorial candidate, former Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar, filed his COC on October 6.

According to the Commission on Elections, an aspirant/official candidate of a duly registered political party, who dies, withdraws, or is disqualified after the last day for the filing of COCs may be substituted by an aspirant/official candidate belonging to, and nominated by the same political party.

It added that no substitute will be allowed for any independent candidate.

The substitute of an aspirant who withdrew his candidacy can file his/her COC until November 15, the deadline set by the poll body. (PNA)