OFW Family Club party-list Rep. Roy Señeres on Thursday said he is now open to the possibility of scuttling his presidential ambitions in favor of his San Beda College fraternity brother, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, provided he agrees to certain conditions.
“Hindi ko sinasabing magpapa-substitute ako [I am not saying that I am willing to be substituted], but if Mayor Duterte withdraws the statements he made against Sen. Grace Poe… if he says he will be pro-life like me instead of being pro-death and if he will take the cudgels for the contractual workers in the country, then I will consider allowing him to
substitute me,” Señeres told in a media forum.
He said he will not allow the Davao City mayor to take his place if only one of his three conditions is met.
Señeres–the country’s former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, who rose to fame in the mid-1990s for saving Sarah Balabagan–a housemaid and a minor who killed her employer who had attempted to rape her–from death row, was among those who filed certificates of candidacy (COC) for President for next year’s elections.
Former Justice secretary and 1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestro Bello 3rd on Wednesday floated the idea of Duterte joining the presidential race by substituting for Señeres instead of PDP-Laban bet Martin Diño, whose COC is allegedly under question.
Señeres on Thursday vehemently denied that he is being considered as Duterte’s “Plan B” in case the Commission on Elections (Comelec) invalidates Diño’s COC.
He said another way for Duterte to substitute him is for the mayor to switch from PDP-Laban to his Filipino Family Party (FPP).
“He could swear an oath of allegiance to the FPP. As a member, he could run for any position he pleases. No one’s stopping him from switching parties,”the former envoy added.
The Comelec has set a December 10 deadline for the substitution of candidates.
Under the Omnibus Election Code, a substitute candidate should come from the same party or coalition as the candidate who is withdrawing his COC.
Duterte is being eyed as the PDP-Laban’s substitute standard-bearer after Diño, its original nominee, withdrew his candidacy.
On his Facebook account late Thursday afternoon, Señeres posted pictures of his appearance in the media forum and wrote, “I was asked if I am willing to allow my brod [fraternity brother]to substitute me and I said no categorically. How can i turn my back on my pledge to the OFWs and families that i would fully protect them should I become President. How could I turn my back on my promise to make the 15 million contractuals become permanent workers till they reach the age of 65? No way. Win or lose I’lll fight for them till the end.”
In the forum, he expressed confidence that Duterte would be amenable to his conditions, considering that the Davao mayor was his fraternity underclassman.
“I know Mayor Duterte. He has a soft spot for women,” Señeres said.
Duterte has taken potshots at Poe, tagging the pre-election survey frontrunner as an
“American who wants to be a Philippine President.”
The senator is a naturalized US citizen.
She, however, renounced her American citizenship in 2010 to pave the way for her appointment as chairman of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.
Poe’s citizenship and residency are being assailed before the Senate Electoral Tribunal and the Comelec.
Duterte’s apparent indecisiveness helped boost his popularity as he managed to grab the people’s attention, political analyst Ramon Casiple said also on Thursday.
Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER), noted that Duterte’s “hot and cold strategy” was very effective to raise people’s awareness, particularly those based in Luzon and Visayas.
“Actually, that’s a good tactic,” he told The Manila Times.
“The problem with him [Duterte] is that he is not popular outside Mindanao. So the best thing to do is to make people aware of him . . . to be controversial,” Casiple said.
“Each time he makes statements either he’s running or not, he’s on the front page [of newspapers],” he also noted.
But Casiple said he does not believe that such indecisiveness will have a negative impact on Duterte’s candidacy.
“I don’t think it will have a disadvantage on him, except that it has a real impact on the financier [of his presidential run]` and his supporters,” he added.
“Others are saying that some of his supporters are getting impatient and will throw their support [behind]other candidates. But if you are quite interested in him [to be your next President], you [will]not hate him anymore once he makes his decision,” Casiple said.
He added that the ratings of presidential candidates who earlier declared their candidacy will be affected since Duterte had already announced his intention to run for President in next year’s polls.
“All of them will be affected. Duterte is number one in Mindanao in the past few months. He has shares also of the so-called Visayan votes and in Metro Manila. And now that he’s already made up his mind, it would change a lot,” Casiple said.
He added that ratings of the administration standard-bearer–former Interior secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd–are expected to slide down in the coming months.
Casiple said Duterte will be able to overtake Roxas, who still ranks third in both the Pulse Asia and SWS surveys, in next surveys.
“The endangered species now is number three [in the surveys]. Usually, there is a bump.
Those who are still undecided and those who are still hesitant, but they will go back to him [especially now that Duterte had]announced his candidacy [for President],” he explained.
The political analyst, however, said he does not believe that Duterte’s entry into the presidential race will be the game-changer.
“I think he’s not a game-changer in the sense that he cannot be the number one in next surveys so fast. That would take time,” Casiple added.
A Pulse Asia survey, conducted from October 18 to 29, showed Poe still leading by 39 percent, followed by Vice President Jejomar Binay with 24 percent and Roxas with 21 percent.
Duterte reiterated also on Thursday that he has no compassion for criminals particularly those involved in drug trafficking.
“You better put up a funeral parlor business if I am elected President,” he told reporters upon his arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport from Hong Kong.
The mayor said his priority if he gets elected President is to stop criminality and corruption.
The tough-talking Duterte said he wants to restore the death penalty in the Philippines which was suspended during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“I hate illegal drugs. I will kill drug traffickers, there’s no problem with that. Drugs have already destroyed our country,” he added.
With NEIL A. ALCOBER and BENJIE L. VERGARA