Bato ready to drop presidential bid in favor of Sara Duterte

Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa on Monday said he was ready to drop his presidential bid for the upcoming May 2022 elections should Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio finally decides to seek the presidency under the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban (PDP-Laban) faction being led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

Dela Rosa, who surprised the public when he formally filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) last weekend as PDP-Laban’s standard bearer, said he is “very much willing” to withdraw his bid, citing that the Davao city mayor’s winnability and her capability to lead the nation is higher than his.

“Willing ako. I am very much willing kasi yung winnability niya masyadong mataas and yung kanyang (because her winnability is high and her) capacity to lead is beyond question,” Dela Rosa said in an online interview.

Dela Rosa also said he is ready to support Duterte-Carpio even if she runs under another political party.

“But I have to wait for the decision of our party kung mag-withdraw ako or hindi (if I will withdraw or not),” he said.

Preparations are underway

Meanwhile, Melvin Matibag, who was elected secretary general of the PDP-Laban Cusi faction, said they are already pushing through with Dela Rosa’s presidential bid, but nothing is yet final until the Commission on Election’s (Comelec) deadline for substitution on November 15 is over.

According to Matibag, the ruling political party is already preparing to roll out the caravan for Dela Rosa and Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, the senator’s running mate in the upcoming May 2022 elections.

“Yung preparations naming ngayon is to push for the Bato-Go tandem, that’s why nagpapa plano na kami ng mga caravan namin (we are already planning a caravan) for that. But is it possible na magkaroon pa ng substitution? Well its always possible, pero kung sasabihin mong mangyayari, certainly, we cannot say that,” he said.

Besides, he said, there is nothing wrong if Dela Rosa would be replaced before November 15 as the Comelec’s process allows the process of substitution.

“I will always respect the opinion of other people and I respect that but I think the better question is, is it wrong if Senator Bato will be substituted before Nov. 15? The answer is no because eve the Comelec resolution allows substitution up to Nov. 15.

“That is the process that we have to respect and have to recognize,” Matibag explained, also in a separate online briefing.

He also debunked claims that fielding Dela Rosa was a “last minute” decision, saying the senator was among those who were being considered to run for president and that they strictly followed the party’s rules in vetting potential presidential bets.

“It’s really not last minute, because if you will recall yung mga interviews noon, kasama lagi sa nababanggit si Sen. Bato, si Sen. (Francis) Tolentino and some Cabinet secretaries),” Matibag said.

“Hanggang alas sinko naman yung filing, hindi naman kami nag-file ng 5 p.m.. Dumaan lahat sa proseso yan (We filed before 5 p.m., we didn’t file at exactly 5 p.m. everything went through the process,” he reiterated.

Nevertheless, Matibag said the whole machinery of the administration and all the party members of the PDP-Laban are fully committed to support Dela Rosa’s presidential bid.

“Ang standard natin noon winnability and somebody who would continue what President Duterte started so doon sa mga pangalan na pinaguusapan, siya na 'yung sumalang sa election, 19 million votes, kilala siya, naging chief PNP siya tapos eh (among the names that were vetted, he was the one who already got elected with 19 million votes, he is well-known , a former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief) and somebody who would continue what President Duterte started,” he pointed out.

“So sigurado 'yun si Senator Bato especially the war on drugs and the war on criminality saka 'yung insurgency. So 'yun ang tiningnan namin diyan, (So we are sure of Senator Bato, especially on the war on drugs and the war on criminality, plus insurgency. So that is what we are looking at),” Matibag explained.