By Francis Allan L. Angelo
The 2022 “political circus” in the Philippines is slowly taking shape as major political figures laid bare their plans.
On Wednesday, President Rodrigo Duterte formally accepted his nomination for vice president by the PDP-Laban faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.
“Thank you for the nomination, I am hopeful that this will allow me to continue serving the Filipino people. “Alam mo bakit ako tatakbong Vice President? Is it ambition? Maybe. Love of country? Yes,” Duterte said during the party’s national convention.
PDP-Laban also nominated Senator Bong Go as standard bearer but the latter again declined the nomination.
“Subalit, inuulit ko, hindi po ako interesadong tumakbo sa pagka-Pangulo sa darating na halalan. Nakatutok po ang buong puso at isipan ko sa pagseserbisyo sa aking kapwa at wala po akong hangarin na makipagkumpitensya sa pinakamataas na posisyon sa bansa,” he said in a video message as he thanked the PDP-Laban for nominating him as the party’s presidential candidate.
(As I have said before, I am not interested in running as President in the upcoming elections. I am concentrating on public service and have no interest in competition for the highest post in the country.)
“Unahin ninyo na lang po ang may gusto. Ang importante ay hanapan natin ng katimbang si Pangulong Duterte upang maipagpatuloy ang pagbabago. Yun ang continuity na inaasam natin,” Go added.
(Just pick whoever wants it. The important thing is that the candidate needs to be equal to President Duterte to continue the change. The continuity that we aspire.)
“Dahil sa mga pagsubok na hinaharap natin ngayon, sakit sa ulo ang aabutin ng susunod na presidente. Kaya tutulong na lang ako sa kanya,” he further pointed out.
(Because of our challenges, it will be a headache to become a president. So I will just help him.)
The ruling party also bared its senatorial slate, composed mostly of Duterte Cabinet officials:
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III
Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo
Transport Chief Arthur Tugade
Leyte Representative Lucy Torres-Gomez
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque Jr.
Public Works Chief Mark Villar
Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) Chairman Grego Belgica
House Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta
NO GOV’T FUNDS USED
PDP-Laban also denied using government funds in the national convention.
DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya on Wednesday stressed that no government funds were used in the national convention of PDP Laban in San Fernando, Pampanga and that all applicable health protocols were complied with.
In an interview upon his arrival at the Laus Group Event Centre, the venue of the event, Malaya said that to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved, all participants are still required to undergo on-site antigen testing even if they have negative RT PCR result.
The antigen test is separate from the requirement for all participants to submit negative RT PCR test results taken not more than 48 hours from the day of the convention.
“The cost for the event including venue and food is paid for entirely by the party. The antigen testing is paid for by PDP Laban party. There are no government funds used for the antigen testing,” Malaya said.
He added that the RT PCR tests were paid for by the concerned individuals.
“For instance, I paid for my own RT PCR test,” Malaya said.
Only around 400 delegates are expected to attend the convention in person, allowing for adequate space for social distancing as the venue can accommodate as many as 2,500 persons.
Under the omnibus guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), mass gathering is allowed in a province under MGCQ subject to limitations on operational capacity of up to 50 percent.
Likewise, Malaya noted that members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) are present in the event as part of their mandate to protect President Rodrigo Duterte, who is expected to grace the event.
President Duterte has said he is willing to accept the endorsement for him to run as PDP Laban’s candidate for Vice President in the 2022 election.
Malaya stressed that while many of the members of PDP Laban are government officials, the ruling party’s convention is not a government event and so it is subject to all the health protocols applicable within the province of Pampanga.
“This is not a government event therefore we are not exempted—we are following all the protocols that are applicable for the province of Pampanga,” Malaya said, noting the province is under MGCQ.
San Jose Del Monte City, Bulacan was the original venue chosen for the event. However, Malaya said PDP Laban was forced to move the venue to Pampanga after the entire province of Bulacan was placed under MECQ due to rising cases of COVID-19 infections. Mass gathering is entirely prohibited in a province under MECQ.
Meanwhile, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III also formally announced Wednesday their presidential and vice presidential bid in the 2022 polls.
The announcement was made via a taped program that was aired on national television and on various social media platforms.
Lacson and Sotto launched their campaign motto “Ito ang Simula,” which is centered on “Katapangan, Kakayahan at Katapatan.”
Lacson highlighted the problems the country is facing such as ballooning debt, unemployment, closure of businesses due to COVID-19, the increasing number of poor Filipinos, illegal drugs, and the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.
“Hindi biro-biro ang mga pagsubok na haharapin ng susunod na administrasyon. Between me and Senate President Sotto are more than 80 years of honest, dedicated, and competent public service,” he said.
Sotto vowed to bring hope to the country amid its quandaries.
“Marahil, dumating na tayo sa punto na hindi na natin kayangipagsawalang bahala na lamang ang mga nangyayari – sa ating gobyerno, sa ekonomiya. Tama na!Kailangan na nating tumugon! Kailangan na nating umaksyon! Kailangan na natin magsanib pwersa upang mapigilan at maitama ang mali. Ito na ang simula,” he said.
(Perhaps, we have come to the point where we can no longer ignore what is happening – to our government, to our economy. Enough! We need to respond! We need to take action! We need to work together to prevent and correct mistakes. This is the beginning.)
Sotto said their senatorial lineup will be revealed in a separate announcement.
The initial list of personalities who might be included in their senatorial slate are
Jejomar “Jojo” Binay Sr.
Francis “Chiz” Escudero
Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian
Richard “Dick” Gordon
Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II
Gregorio “Goyo” Larrazabal
Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri
Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito (With reports from GMA News Online)