Pols welcome withdrawal of Duterte, Go from 2022 polls | Inquirer News
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Pols welcome withdrawal of Duterte, Go from 2022 polls

Vice presidential aspirant Sara Duterte says the filing and withdrawal of a certificate of candidacy is a personal decision. Senators Ping Lacson and Manny Pacquiao, who are running for president, urge the public to respect the pair’s move.

WHAT NEXT? President Rodrigo Duterte, accompanied by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, turns up at the Commission on Elections office in Manila to withdraw his candidacy for senator, hours after longtime aide Sen. Bong Go withdrew his candidacy for president. (Agence France-Presse)

MANILA, Philippines — In yet another rearrangement of the election landscape, President Rodrigo Duterte and his longtime aide Sen. Bong Go have officially withdrawn their candidacy for senator and president, respectively, in the May 2022 polls.

The president filed his statement of withdrawal at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) headquarters in Manila on Tuesday afternoon, hours after Go filed his. Candidates are required to personally file the document at the Comelec.

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The two men, both members of a faction of the administration’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), entered as substitute candidates on Nov. 15 and Nov. 13, respectively, under the unheard-of Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan (PDDS).

Duterte’s statement of withdrawal is dated Dec. 11 and Go’s Dec. 8.

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Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, a vice presidential candidate, said she respected the decision of her father and of Go to pull out of the elections. Only recently, she named her father at the top of a list of senatorial aspirants that she would endorse in her team-up with presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

“The filing of candidacy and withdrawal is a personal decision. We can only support that decision,” the mayor said in a statement.

‘He’s old’

Speaking in Filipino to reporters outside the Comelec, Go said he had waited for “a little time” to make his supporters understand that “my heart and mind are resisting running for president.”

“I also take pity on President Duterte. He’s already old. My family and I don’t want to make him suffer,” Go said.

Political striptease

Observers have described the tangled election race as a political striptease. Duterte himself announced in October that he would retire from politics, but showed no sign of doing so.

Go originally filed a certificate of candidacy (COC) for vice president under the PDP-Laban. But at the president’s urging, he withdrew that COC after Mayor Duterte substituted as vice presidential candidate of the Lakas-CMD party.

The president, meanwhile, ended up as a substitute senatorial candidate of the PDDS after earlier saying he would run for vice president, which would have pitted him against his daughter.

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The period of substitution due to voluntary withdrawal of COC lapsed on Nov. 15.

Go announced on Nov. 30 that he would withdraw from the presidential race. But he did not make it official until the eve of the expected release of the Comelec’s final list of candidates today, Dec. 15.

However, the Comelec has rescheduled the release of the final list to January.

Pandemic, recovery, polls

“The list of official candidates will not be released [on Dec. 15] as there are still a number of unresolved nuisance cases,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez told reporters on Tuesday.

“We expect that the process of finalizing the list of candidates will take at least two more weeks, he said.

In Malacañang, acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said Duterte had withdrawn his senatorial candidacy in order to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic and the country’s economic recovery.

“The president believes that withdrawing from the Senate race will allow him to better focus on managing our pandemic response in order to sustain the progress we have made in the country and in safely reopening the economy,” Nograles said in a statement.

According to Nograles, Duterte also thinks that backing out of the race will enable him “to concentrate on efforts to ensure transparent, impartial, orderly and peaceful elections in May.”

Duterte will bow out of politics “after over four decades in public service,” Nograles said, adding that he “plans to retire from government to spend more time with his family when his term ends in June 2022.”

The president had said more than once that he would seek a seat in the Senate because he was displeased with how the chamber was conducting its investigation of cases involving executive officials.

Pharmally

He complained at length about the Senate blue ribbon committee’s inquiry into the multibillion-peso contracts for pandemic supplies awarded to the undercapitalized Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp.

He said government officials invited to the hearings were not being given the chance to present their full explanations or were being made to wait too long to testify when they could be attending to the pandemic.

On Monday, the president ranted once more against Sen. Richard Gordon, who chairs the blue ribbon committee.

He said Gordon was among the politicians thriving on black propaganda and using the Pharmally issue for reelection.

“He keeps on talking about Pharmally and returning to the issue because of the elections. He knows that is the issue I will bring to the platform on stage when I talk, because he really does not deserve to be a senator,” Duterte said.

He reiterated that Gordon was unable to properly account for government funds as chair of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, and should rest from politics.

‘Peace as their path’

The other presidential candidates weighed in on the latest political twist.

On Twitter, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Duterte and Go “have chosen peace as their path” by withdrawing their candidacies.

“Let’s give it to them and wish them well,” said Lacson, the Partido Reporma standard-bearer. His running mate, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, called the two men’s decision a “wise move.”

“It takes a wise man to sacrifice something that he loves and give way to others who can serve our country better,” Sotto told reporters on Viber.

In Mati City, Davao Oriental, Sen. Manny Pacquiao urged everyone to “respect” Go’s decision, saying “he has a right to do what he believes is best for him.”

Pacquiao said he would continue Duterte’s development agenda for Mindanao even if he had criticized the latter in the past. He said Go’s withdrawal from the presidential race would benefit him. “I’m the only Mindanaoan and Visayan who is running for president. Who else will Mindanaoans and Visayans support? One like them, of course,” he said.

—WITH REPORTS FROM DJ YAP AND JULIE M. AURELIO
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TAGS: #VotePH2022, 2022 presidential race, 2022 senatorial race, Bong Go, Rodrigo Duterte
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