Deputy Speaker Eric Martinez considers Sen. Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go as the best choice of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan's (PDP-Laban) candidate for vice president in the 2022 elections if President Rodrigo Duterte does not run for the position.
Last month, the PDP-Laban adopted a resolution urging Duterte to run for vice president, but the President said he was ready for retirement.
"Kung talagang magreretiro at hindi na kakagatin ng Pangulo ang alok ng PDP-Laban na kanyang partido, si Senador Bong Go ang pinakakuwalipikadong tao na pumalit sa kanya sa pangalawang pinakamataas na posisyon sa bansa (If the President will retire and will not accept the offer of his party, Sen. Bong Go is the most qualified to replace him to run for the second highest position in the country)," Martinez, who represents Valenzuela's second district, said.
He added that Go can help continue the changes started by the Duterte administration.
Martinez said the senator has become the "model public servant" who risks his life and health in helping the public during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a speech on Wednesday, Duterte described running for vice president as a good idea, but he added that he had promised to support Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez if the latter runs for vice president.
Romualdez, president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) party, on Thursday thanked Duterte for the offer but said he is keeping his options open.
"As the majority leader of the House of Representatives, I am focused on steering the approval of vital legislative measures that the President wishes to be passed before his term ends next year," Romualdez said.
In a statement, Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., Lakas-CMD chairman, said Romualdez "is highly qualified" for the vice presidency's demands.
Romualdez "is more than capable. He is highly qualified for the demands of the position," Revilla said.
"Consensus builder kasi si Martin. Instead of dwelling on problems, he makes sure he is a part of the solution and sways everyone to do the same," he said.
On Thursday, Romualdez said Lakas-CMD and Hugpong ng Pagbabago would further strengthen their alliance, which began even before the 2019 elections.
Asked if he was open to team up with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, he said he did not want to pre-empt the mayor, "but definitely, her brand of leadership will augur well."
"I'm not even decided myself on a national run, but definitely it is something that we will be considering and making consultations with our partymates and our constituency," Romualdez said.
In his speech during the ceremonial signing of several laws in Malacañang on Wednesday, Duterte admitted seeking the vice presidency would not be a bad idea, but he said that he committed his support to Romualdez back when there was a fight for the House speakership in 2020 and the lawmaker was a "serious contender" for the post.
"Ang deal ko sa kanya ganito - huwag ka na lang maghabol diyan (I made a deal with him, don't bother pursuing that) and next election, which is just around the corner, if you run for vice president, I will support you. And I will hold on to that commitment," Duterte said.
The President said his decision to run for vice president might depend on Romualdez's decision.
Romualdez is a nephew of former first lady Imelda Marcos, who hails from Leyte, and the first cousin of Sen. Maria Imelda Josefa "Imee" Marcos.
Lakas-CMD is the former party of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
The opposition coalition 1Sambayan is also pondering who to field as its choice for vice presidential candidate.
On Thursday, Bro. Armin Luistro, a former Education secretary and 1Sambayan convenor, said Sen. Mary Grace Poe would make a "good" candidate for vice president if she decides to run.
"Among the organizations in 1Sambayan, there are some groups [that] really still feel she would make a good vice president if not president," Luistro said.
He made the statement after recalling that Poe, who is one of six nominees of the coalition, declined a possible presidential bid.
Poe said in an earlier interview she was open to running for vice president.
The other nominees of 1Sambayan include Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo, former senator Antonio "Sonny" Trillanes 4th, Cibac party-list Rep. Eduardo "Bro. Eddie" Villanueva, Batangas Sixth District Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto and lawyer Jose Manuel "Chel" Diokno.
Everyone but Robredo and Trillanes has rejected the coalition's offer.
"This is not the final list anyway. There will come a time when we could finalize the list," Luistro said, adding that the nominees prefer to keep their decisions "close to their hearts at this stage."
"One thing is very clear to us and to them: if the opposition is divided, then it [will] be the incumbent that would win," he said.
Robredo had said there should only be a single opposition candidate to challenge the administration's presidential bet in 2022.