PHILIPPINES— Sara Duterte-Carpio is expected to make an announcement over the weekend on the national position she will be vying for in the 2022 elections.

In a press briefing Friday, Majority Leader and Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) President Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said the Davao City mayor was still holding consultations before making a decision.

Speculation is rife that she will be the party’s standard-bearer.

Duterte-Carpio has to decide by November 15, the last day for substituting candidates.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Education and Information DepartmentDirector Elaiza Sabile-David said only a party-mate of the original candidate is allowed as a replacement.

Lakas-CMD has listed Anna Capella Velasco as its candidate for president and Lyle Fernando Uy as its vice presidential bet. The two filed their certificates of candidacy (CoCs) on October 8.

Last Thursday, Duterte-Carpio was sworn into Lakas-CMD hours after she resigned from her regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP), making her eligible to fill in either for Velasco or Uy.

A Lakas-CMD insider said Velasco is allied with Juan Miguel “Mikee” Arroyo, son of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is the party’s chairman emeritus, and former congressman Prospero “Butch” Pichay, a long-time Arroyo ally.

Romualdez said Lakas-CMD had been trying to get her on board since 2018.

Romualdez said that last November 9, he received this message from the mayor: “Majo (addressing Romualdez by his position in the House of Representatives as majority leader), puwede na ba ako mag-oath sa Lakas (Majo, can I already take an oath with Lakas)?”

Romualdez parried a question about being caught between “blood and party,” saying his focus was on nation-building.

Romualdez is a cousin of presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and belongs to a powerful political clan in the province of Leyte.

He said Marcos and Duterte-Carpio were talking to each other, and “I see no conflict between them.”

Romualdez also didn’t give a straight answer about a possible alliance between Lakas-CMD and the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), saying only that his party was open to accepting new members.

Romualdez has not had a conversation with President Rodrigo Duterte since the presidential daughter called him regarding her decision to join Lakas-CMD.

Duterte-Carpio took her oath as a member of Lakas-CMD at the Revilla Farm in Silang, Cavite, where she was a sponsor at the wedding of a daughter of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., who is the chairman of the party.

Commenting on Duterte-Carpio’s move to Lakas-CMD, vice presidential aspirant Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said he and presidential running mate Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo were ready to take on anyone in 2022.

“We are ready to face whoever. And we also said na ‘yang substitution, nangyari na ‘yan e, kumbaga part two (A similar substitution has happened before. This seems like part two),” he said during a forum on Friday.

Pangilinan also acknowledged the rift in the family of his wife Sharon Cunetasince he will be going up against Cuneta’s uncle, Senate President Vicente“Tito” Sotto 3rd. But he hopes that eventually “there will be reconciliation and forgiveness.”

As to the petition with the Comelec to void former senator Marcos’ candidacy for president, Pangilinan said he would leave it up to the Comelec and the Supreme Court to decide the matter.

“This is a free country, if there is basis for the disqualification, then Comelec should act on it, and the Supreme Court,” he said.

He said he and Robredo “are more focused on our preparations for the campaign and preparing for it and our volunteers.”

Following Duterte-Carpio’s move to Lakas-CMD, the PDP-Laban is looking at its “original plan” to field the tandem of Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go and President Rodrigo Duterte.

Melvin Matibag, secretary general of the PDP-Laban wing led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, said on Friday the party is monitoring “shifting political developments” and is consulting its leaders in provinces and cities.

“We continue to monitor the developments in the national political landscape and we are exploring all options as the dominant majority party, including our original plan of fielding a Go-Duterte tandem,” Matibag said in a statement.

“In the meantime, we continue to consult PDP leaders in the provinces and cities so our ultimate decision will be reflective of the sentiments on the ground,” he said.

Cusi’s camp had endorsed President Duterte as its vice presidential candidate, with Go as the standard-bearer. That prompted Duterte-Carpio to say that she would not run for president, citing a supposed agreement in their family that only one of them could run for a national post in next year’s polls.

The older Duterte, however, backed out and announced that he was retiring from politics.

The party had to make adjustments to its lineup, hastily picking Sen. RonaldBato” dela Rosa as its presidential candidate, with Go sliding down as vice presidential bet.

The reluctant dela Rosa has offered the post to Duterte-Carpio, but Cusi has said the offer did not have the blessing of the party.

“That is just a personal statement or personal offer of Senator Bato to Mayor Inday Sara,” Cusi said.