PHILIPPINES— A newly formed political party on Tuesday established an alliance with the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) to support the vice presidential bid of Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go in the 2022 elections.
The Reform Party, headed by former Magdalo member James Layug, and the PDP-Laban, led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, have signed an agreement affirming support for Go.
In a press conference, Layug highlighted the importance of forging an alliance with the administration party to ensure the continuity of President Rodrigo Duterte’s programs, particularly the fight against illegal drugs, criminality and corruption.
Layug said the party is “still in the process of selecting the next leader of our country that will be our partner and will advance our reform agenda.”
“We have 80,000 strong members distributed nationwide and for standard-bearers, our executive council is still in the selection process, but we have already decided and committed to support the vice presidential bid of Senator Bong Go and the three other senatorial candidates,” Layug said.
Go, who was initially proclaimed by the PDP-Laban’s Cusi wing as its presidential candidate, instead filed his candidacy for vice president, a position originally offered to Duterte, who turned it down, saying he plans to retire from public service after his term ends in 2022.
In the end, it was Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa who signed up as the PDP-Laban’s presidential bet.
Layug said his party is supporting Go for vice president because “he represents the reform agenda of our President, PRRD (President Duterte), which is what we need in the next administration.”
Layug said the Reform Party, an offshoot of former Information and Communications Technology secretary Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan 2nd’s Reform the Armed Forces Movement, will also support the senatorial candidacies of Honasan, former Public secretary Mark Villar, and former Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission Commissioner and former Manila councilor Greco Belgica.
In the same press briefing, Cusi said the PDP-Laban entered an alliance with the Reform Party “because they believe in what we are espousing.”
He said the party is only supporting three PDP-Laban candidates to allow it leeway in making its choices.
Cusi also said talks are still on whether the Reform Party will also support dela Rosa.
“I’m sure by November 16 we will have one common candidate,” he said.
On Tuesday, dela Rosa said he flew to Davao City to remind Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio of the November 15 deadline for the substitution of candidates.
In his Facebook post, the senator shared a photo of him and the presidential daughter at the Davao City Hall.
“I just reminded her that November 15 is fast approaching,” dela Rosa said when asked what he and Duterte-Carpio talked about.
Dela Rosa has denied being a placeholder for the mayor when he accepted the PDP-Laban’s offer to run for president.
But he admitted having been informed by the party that he would be its standard-bearer only a few hours before the filing of certificates of candidacy ended on October 8.
The senator also said he is willing to give way to Duterte-Carpio if she decides to join the presidential derby.
Duterte-Carpio maintains she will only seek reelection as mayor.
Go, meanwhile, continued to dispel rumors he is clearing the way for another candidate, saying he is committed to seeking the vice presidency.
During an interview after the launch of the country’s 145th Malasakit Center at the Philippine National Police General Hospital in Quezon City on Monday, Go was asked if a substitution for another candidate was still possible.
He replied that while the subject is a matter for the PDP-Laban to determine, he is 100-percent committed to running for vice president.
“Mayroon po akong partido. So, ibig sabihin, hindi po ako makakadesisyon nang ako lang…. Hindi na nga tumakbo si Pangulong Duterte, and it was the party’s decision na tumakbo po ako bilang bise presidente. At desisyon po ‘yon ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte at iginagalang ko po ‘yon. That is why I accepted the challenge (I have my party. So, this means that I cannot make the decision alone. … President Duterte is not running, and it was the party’s decision that I run as vice president. That was also the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte, and I respect it. That is why I accepted the challenge),” he said.
Earlier, Go said Duterte’s plan to retire from politics prompted him to run for vice president.
Asked about Duterte-Carpio’s recent separate meetings with presidential aspirants Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and dela Rosa, Go said it was the prerogative of the younger Duterte and her party, the Hugpong ng Pagbabago, to meet with key leaders and possibly support certain candidates.
He said he respects her decision not to run for president.
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