Sara Duterte likely to run for president, VP not an option – Salceda

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 10) — An ally of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte believes she will gun for the presidency in the 2022 elections after she withdrew her candidacy for reelection.

Deputy Speaker Joey Salceda on Wednesday said he based his statement on his personal conversations with the presidential daughter, but he also admitted that Duterte did not categorically state that she would run for president.

"That is the only logical conclusion to all the gyrations in politics inside the administration. VP (vice presidency) is definitely not an option for her," Salceda said in an interview with reporters.

Salceda also explained the possible reason why the Davao mayor is having a change of heart despite dismissing speculations that she would run for president or vice president.

"There were hurdles put on her way, she wanted to run on her own terms, may mga conditionalities, so she did not. Ngayon na wala na 'yun [Now that's gone]... She's running for president on her own terms," he said.

"May bumigay [someone caved]. Her terms were met, so that's the turning point," he added.

Political party

Salceda said there's a big chance that she would run as the standard bearer of Lakas-CMD, the political party of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

He added that Mayor Duterte, who belongs to regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago, would most likely not run as a substitute candidate of PDP-Laban, the party of her father President Rodrigo Duterte, due to the infighting.

Salceda said Duterte will announce her political plans before the deadline of substitution, which is on Nov. 15.

Under the rules of the Commission on Elections, substitution is accepted if a candidate dies, withdraws, or is disqualified by the poll body. Another person from the same national party can be the substitute candidate.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said that in the case of Duterte, she will have to join a national political party and substitute their existing candidate. Lakas-CMD fielded a tandem of relatively unknown aspirants, while PDP-Laban's standard bearers are Senators Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa and Bong Go.

A faction of PDP-Laban chaired by the President said it is closely watching Mayor Duterte's next steps.

"PDP Laban watches with keen interest the developments on Sara Duterte's decision to withdraw her certificate of candidacy for Davao City Mayor, especially considering the public support she enjoys. In any event, her actions, including any decision to run for a national elective office, will most certainly affect the political landscape," party president Alfonso Cusi said in a statement.

Jimenez announced Comelec will also accept applications for substitution on Saturday, Nov. 13, in order to prevent crowding, as they expect deadline beaters will also bring supporters with them.

Supporters have also been pushing for a Bongbong Marcos-Sara Duterte tandem for the 2022 polls, especially after the two met in Cebu last month. Political analyst Julio Teehankee said this would be a formidable alliance between the north and the south.

But he told CNN Philippines that should Duterte run for president, this "might cause nightmares for the Bongbong Marcos campaign."

Choosing her vice president, meanwhile, is not an issue now since there's a long line of candidates who are willing to run with her, Teehankee said.

This latest development could also benefit other presidential bets, specifically Vice President Leni Robredo and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, since it can trigger "a lot of recalibration and recomputation" in their electoral calculus, Teehankee added.

Asked about the chances that the opposition will recalibrate to support only one or two candidates, he said: "We are still at the starting line of the race. A lot can still happen between now and Nov. 15, and between now and May of 2022."

CNN Philippines' correspondent Xianne Arcangel contributed to this report.