“The die is cast. I have already crossed the Rubicon.”
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte made the statement on Monday as he confirmed reports over the weekend that he has changed his mind and would run for President in next year’s elections.
“Yes, I am running,” he told reporters in San Juan City (Metro Manila). ““But the formal declaration will be made by the PDP.”
The tough-talking mayor was referring to Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan or PDP-Laban, the over 30-year-old political party that has been pushing him to gun for the presidency.
PDP-Laban traces its roots to Davao City and Cagayan de Oro City and was organized in the early 1980s primarily to galvanize anti-Marcos forces in the region. Duterte is a member of the party.
Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd, president of the PDP-Laban, said he spoke with Duterte last Saturday and the mayor told him he is now inclined to run in 2016.
“This is the accumulation of his [Duterte] frustrations or concerns due to complaints given to him like tanim-bala [bullet-planting], citizenship and others. Maybe he’s had enough,” Pimentel added.
Pimentel, a Bar topnotcher, said that in order to make Duterte’s candidacy official, the mayor needs to file his own certificate of candidacy for President, attaching the party’s nomination to Martin Diño’s COC, who recently withdrew as standard-bearer of the party.
“We will do it step by step, he [Duterte] still has until December 10 [to file his own COC],” the senator added.
He said the Davao City mayor will be the substitute candidate of the PDP-Laban.
According to Pimentel, PDP-Laban has been reenergized and is now flexing its political muscle although he admitted that they do not have candidates in all municipalities.
He said there are many personalities identified with PDP-Laban who are no longer part of the party but vowed to campaign for Duterte after learning about the his presidential bid.
The party fielded former Quezon City barangay (village) captain Martin Diño as its standard-bearer after Duterte failed to appear at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) head office in Manila on the last day of filing of certificates of candidacy.
A few weeks later, PDP-Laban passed a resolution designating Duterte as its “substitute candidate” in case Diño withdraws his candidacy.
Another resolution stated that Duterte could not turn down the party’s decision to draft him as its candidate for President.
According to the schedule of the Comelec, a political party may replace its registered candidates not later than December 10.
Speculations that the 70-year-old Duterte–known for his tough stance against criminality and illegal drugs–was eyeing a higher position started after he embarked on a nationwide speaking tour purportedly as part of a campaign to draw support for a proposal to move for a shift to a federal form of government.
He, however, has repeatedly denied eyeing the presidency, citing his age and desire to retire from politics.
The mayor even threatened “to shoot” whoever was behind the movement to draft him to run for President in the 2016 elections.
Duterte’s eventual entry into the presidential derby makes the 2016 elections a five-cornered fight.
The administration Liberal Party is fielding former senator and Interior secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd, while the opposition United Nationalist Alliance would be bannered by Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Independent candidates Senators Grace Poe and Miriam Defensor-Santiago round up the contenders.
“Whether they’ll accept it or not, I don’t worry. I don’t know how my lawyers would fix the problem, but my lawyers will soon sort it out. There should be a proper step on that,” Duterte told reporters when asked how he would throw his hat into the ring.
He said his disappointment with the government’s failure to act on the alleged bullet-planting (tanim-bala) extortion scheme at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and the Senate Electoral Tribunal’s decision favoring Poe were the factors that made him change his mind.
“As a matter of principle, I cannot accept the fact that we have elected [someone]who is half-American and half-Filipino,” the mayor added, referring to Poe, who is facing disqualification cases over her citizenship and residency.
Duterte said should Poe be disqualified, he is willing to withdraw his candidacy.
When asked on when he is going to file his candidacy, he replied, “When I get to confer with the PDP leadership, it will be a formal announcement. When will it be, I can’t tell you.”
“I have to talk to the father and son first [former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Koko Pimentel]. There’s a need for the party [PDP-Laban] to talk first,” the mayor said.
Duterte confirmed that his eventual running mate would be Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, whom he remarked as “very patient” in waiting for his eventual “Yes.”
“There he is, at my back,” referring to Cayatano. “If not, why would we be together?” he said.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday expressed doubts that Duterte could still join the presidential derby.
“For instance, will he be adopted by PDP-Laban? A story came out that the PDP-Laban candidate [Martin Dino] filed for mayor instead of President. So can he file? Speculation. I don’t have a copy of the document but they can say it’s not document but the intent,” Aquino said.
Some sectors, he added, would ask if the Comelec would give Duterte special accommodation because he was given an extension to file his candidacy. “There’s a deadline for filing and now all of a sudden you can file after that period,” the President said.
Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal on Wednesday said Duterte’s eventual move to become the substitute presidential candidate of the PDP-Laban could face problems.
Macalintal raised at least two issues involving Diño’s candidacy.
First is the apparent error in Diño’s certificate of candidacy, which indicates that he is running for mayor of Pasay City (Metro Manila).
“If that happens, what we [will see]is that Dino [will run]for mayor of Pasay City. That would have problems. If that happens, I don’t know how they would substitute Mayor Duterte,” Macalintal said.
The second issue that the lawyer sees is the Comelec law department’s reported plan to consider Diño as a nuisance candidate.
“Even if he’s saying that he haswithdrawn his candidacy, the Comelec has to resolve if Dino is a nuisance candidate. Even if he already withdrew, there’s still a need for Comelec approval,” Macalintal said.
If Diño is declared a nuisance bet, his COC will also be considered null and void, he added.
With CATHERINE S. VALENTE and JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA