PDP-Laban—the political party that traces its roots to leaders of the anti-Marcos forces in Davao City—is not giving up on Rodrigo Duterte.
The party on Tuesday passed a resolution naming the Davao City mayor as its “substitute candidate” in case its registered standard-bearer, former Quezon City barangay (village) captain Martin Diño withdraws from the presidential derby or gets disqualified by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
A report by GMA News online quoted J.V. Hinlo, interim president of PDP-Laban, sayi
ng that they passed Resolution No. 2 during the party’s assembly on Monday to ensure that the party will have a candidate in next year’s elections.
The party’s Resolution 2-2015 specifically “compelled” Duterte to substitute for Diño.
“[He] must dutifully abide by the decision of the party,” the resolution read.
Under the Comelec’s timeline, the substitution of candidates would be accommodated until December 10, 2015.
Under the Election Code, Duterte could withdraw his certificate of candidacy (COC) for Davao City mayor and file another COC as a substitute candidate within the prescribed period.
Hinlo said the party, however, remains supportive of Diño–an anti-crime advocate and secretary-general of PDP-Laban–whom the resolution describes as one of its “strongest presidential hopefuls.”
An earlier Resolution–1-2015–calls on all members of the PDP-Laban to support Diño.
“For now, the official candidate of PDP-Laban and its official nominee is Martin Diño. We just made Resolution No. 2 public in the event Martin Diño withdraws from the race, Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte is being compelled by the party to accept the nomination as its substitute candidate,” Hinlo said.
“We know that he [Duterte] is the strongest candidate among the nominees. He’s stronger than Diño, stronger than Koko [Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd]. Our chances of victory with the presidency is higher with Duterte. With Diño and Koko, we have to start all over again,” he added.
Diño, who rose to prominence as the village chief who served as the guardian of a child rape victim in the infamous Leo Echegaray case, filed his certificate of candidacy for President a few minutes before the Comelec closed the filing period last October 16.
Duterte supporters crowded the façade of the Palacio del Governador in Intramuros, Manila, where the Comelec main offices are located, expecting that the mayor would plane in from Davao City to file his COC for President.
Duterte, through a proxy, earlier filed his COC for reelection.
The mayor has repeatedly denied that he is running for President, saying he is already old, tired and was not eyeing Malacañang.
Nonetheless, his supporters continued to press for his candidacy even after the period of filing of COC ended last October 16.
Duterte, who is known for his iron-fist approach in curbing illegal drugs and criminality in Davao City, was widely speculated to be gunning for the presidency after he started to go on a nationwide speaking tour purportedly to drum up support for a lobby to shift to the federal form of government.
GMA News also reported that Duterte has already been told of the party’s decision “compelling” him to become Diño’s substitute–and that he could not refuse.
“Let’s just wait and see what the mayor will say to this. He told CNN Philippines that ‘I will abide by what the party decides.’ We now don’t know what to tell the media,” former South Cotabato governor Mike Sueño, national chairman of PDP-Laban, said.
Should Duterte remain firm in his decision not to seek the presidency, PDP-Laban has the option to go on with Diño’s candidacy or find another substitute candidate.
“Our party president, Sen. Koko Pimentel, could become our third nominee. He’s qualified. What the party wants to impart as a message to the Filipino people is that PDP-Laban will not allow itself to be swept under the rug. We’ll participate in the 2016 elections,” Hinlo said.