President Rodrigo Duterte (Presidential photo)

PHILIPPINES— President Rodrigo Duterte has no “final” decision yet on calls of his allies to run for senator in the May 9, 2022 national elections, Malacañang said on Friday.

This, after Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said Duterte is considering seeking a Senate seat next in next year’s polls.

“As far as I know, wala pa pong pinal na desisyon (there is no decisison yet). But as Senator Bong Go said, he is considering,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual presser, when asked about Duterte’s 2022 political plans.

Go and Duterte were initially proclaimed as the presidential and vice presidential candidates, respectively, of the ruling party, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

However, Go instead ran for vice president after Duterte withdrew his plan to seek the second top post in the country as he sought to retire from politics when he steps down from office in 2022.

Despite Duterte’s planned retirement from politics, the PDP-Laban has urged the President to join the 2022 senatorial race.

Go said Duterte is still weighing a number of factors, including the senatorial slate of the PDP-Laban.

He added that PDP-Laban officials would meet before Nov. 15 to finalize the party’s Senate slate.

The period of filing of certificates of candidacy (COC) ended on Oct. 8, but the deadline for substitution of candidates of political parties is until Nov. 15.

Roque’s Senate run still possible

Meantime, Roque said he is still considering running for senator.

One of the factors that might persuade Roque to seek a Senate is the supposed efforts of “extremist groups” to depict him as a “war criminal.”

Roque was referring to the New York-based Filipino militants who disrupted the private reception he attended at a restaurant in Manhattan last week to stage a protest against his nomination for a seat at the International Law Commission (ILC).

Noong ‘yung mga extremist group eh tinawag akong kriminal, parang talagang ang aking naging resolve ay ano ang sinabi nilang war criminal diyan? At kinakailangan, linisin sana ang ating pangalan (When the extremist groups called me criminal, my resolve is, why are they calling me war criminal? So I need to clear my name),” he said.

Roque said it is also a “positive development” that Duterte is also open to running for senator.

Lahat po iyan ay kinukunsidera natin dahil may panahon pa naman po. Unang-una po, ‘yung posibilidad na tatakbo din si Presidente para senador. Iyan po ay isang positive na development as far as my own candidacy is concerned dahil patuloy pa rin kaming magkakasama ni Presidente sa kampanya (We are all considering those factors and we still have time. One of those factors is that the President might also run for senator. That’s a positive development as far as my own candidacy is concerned because we can still see each other during the campaign),” he said.

Roque also said he is still praying for a “miracle” that Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, despite her firm stance to finish her last term as mayor, would listen to the public’s clamor for her to seek the presidency.

Roque did not file his COC for senator because Sara rejected calls for her to run for president.

“Pangalawa po, siyempre po, nagdadasal pa rin po tayo ng milagro na baka ma-convince pa rin po natin siMayor Sara (Second, we are still praying for a miracle to convince Mayor Sara [to run for president]),” Roque said.