Duterte: I won’t be substitute
“I won’t be a substitute candidate,” Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday, scotching speculation that he would replace his party’s presidential candidate later this year.
Duterte did not show up at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) headquarters in Manila on Friday, the last day of filing certificates of candidacy for next year’s general elections.
In a radio interview Friday afternoon, Duterte said he would not be a substitute candidate.
“I’m for being original,” he said.
He denied reports that he was in Manila Friday morning and flew to Davao in the afternoon.
“I never left home,” Duterte said.
He said a private plane was sent to Davao to fetch and fly him to Manila but he declined.
Duterte said businessmen like Manuel V. Pangilinan, Lucio Tan and Gabby Lopez met with him ahead of the registration of candidates to ask if he was running for President.
“I said no,” he said.
Hundreds of Duterte’s supporters trooped to Comelec headquarters in Intramuros, Manila, on Friday to see him file his certificate of candidacy for President.
Instead his party, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), sent Martin Diño, the party secretary general and national chair of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), to the Comelec to file a certificate of candidacy for the presidency.
That did not mean, however, that Duterte was already out of the presidential race.
Till Dec. 10
The Comelec said Duterte has until Dec. 10 to change his mind and run for the presidency.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said there was a rule allowing the substitution of candidates. The rule requires the candidates involved in the substitution to be members of the same party.
Duterte’s supporters had hoped to the last minute that he would come and file his candidacy papers.
He filed a certificate of candidacy for reelection as mayor in Davao City on Thursday, but his daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio filed candidacy papers for mayor in Davao City on Friday and urged all Filipinos to vote for her father as President.
Then word spread that Duterte was flying to Manila.
As the clock ticked toward the 5 p.m. deadline, his supporters fidgeted outside the Comelec headquarters.
But no Duterte came.
Diño arrived six minutes before 5 p.m. and filed his candidacy papers, becoming the 128th presidential candidate.
When the registration closed at 5 p.m., a total of 130 people had signed up as presidential candidates.
Not a bench-warmer?
In a brief speech, Diño said he had the capability to run for Malacañang, given his experience as a barangay captain who helped a rape victim get justice in 1994. He said he had been a member of the PDP-Laban since 1982.
“I am very lucky to have obtained a party nomination to run for President,” he said, adding that he would be able to establish a crime-free society by combining the party’s principles and the VACC’s advocacy.
Like Duterte, he would also push for federalism and “cooperativism,” he said.
Asked whether he was being fielded as a bench-warmer for Duterte, Diño replied in the negative.
But a PDP-Laban staff member said Diño was being fielded only for the meantime and could be replaced by Duterte later.
Orphaned VP hopeful
Duterte’s no-show left Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who is running for Vice President, without a presidential running mate.
Cayetano had hoped Duterte would pick him as his running mate, but proceeded to file his certificate of candidacy even without Duterte.
In a speech, Cayetano said he remained hopeful that Duterte would run for President.
“Whether or not I will be his running mate, my support for his candidacy will be 100 percent,” Cayetano said.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, the opposition’s presidential candidate, expressed regret that Duterte was not running.
“What a pity. Mayor Duterte is a model of competence in the executive department. But it’s not a full loss, because he plans to continue his good programs for Davao City,” Binay said.
Duterte’s supporters were not giving up.
“It’s a strategy,” said Ram Samar, 40, of Naga City, who had his pate shaven to show his support for Duterte’s presidential run.
“We all know that those who declare their presidential candidacy become victims of smear campaigns,” he told the Inquirer outside the Comelec building.
Asked if Duterte’s flip-flopping did not turn him and the other supporters off, Samar replied: “No. We die-hard supporters believe in him more.”
Arnold Alzaga, 44, of Caloocan City, insisted that Duterte would not fail his supporters.
“He will never leave us. He will not abandon us,” Alzaga said.
But in Davao City, Duterte, minutes before the Comelec deadline, posted a statement on Facebook.
“A little over two years ago I posted on the government website that I was not interested in the presidency. Nothing has changed. I am comfortable where I am now,” he said.
“If Inday Sara (his daughter) wants it, she has the choice of running in 2016 or the next election. Personally, the earlier the better. I want to retire. I am tired,” he said.
“Give the presidency to the one who wants it. I don’t,” he said.
Earlier, Sara Duterte-Carpio, a former Davao mayor, posted on Twitter a picture of her certificate of candidacy for mayor.
In the caption for the picture, she urged Filipinos to vote for her father as President.
Carpio shaved her pate earlier this week, a move seen as go-signal for her father to run for Malacañang.
But on Thursday night, Duterte said his daughter’s shaving her pate was a form of sarcasm. He did not explain his statement. With reports from Tina G. Santos and Niña P. Calleja in Manila and Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.