CEBU City’s top public officials said they will support the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) if it decides to field its party chairman President Rodrigo Duterte in the 2022 vice presidential race.
Mayor Edgardo Labella said on Thursday, March 11, 2021, that he will abide by whatever the party’s decision, adding that it would be good if Duterte, branded by his critics as a populist strongman, would still be around.
Vice Mayor Michael Rama said he knew about the plan to persuade Duterte to run for the vice presidency as early as December 2020 as he is in direct contact with Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.
Duterte hinted of Go’s possible presidential candidacy after he addressed him as “president” during his speech in a recent government meeting he attended in Cagayan de Oro City.
Rama said he has no problem with a Go-Duterte tandem in the 2022 elections.
Labella and Rama are members of Partido Barug, the local political party affiliated with the ruling PDP-Laban since 2018. Rama is Partido Barug’s founding president.
About 18 city and town mayors in Cebu adopted during a private meeting the resolution passed by the Metro Manila mayors allied with the PDP-Laban that urges Duterte to run for vice president.
During the private meeting, the PDP-Laban-allied officials signed a manifesto supporting the continuity of the government’s 10-point socio-economic agenda and the ongoing Covid-19 action plan of government including the Philippine National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for Covid-19.
Labella was not able to attend the private meeting last Wednesday, March 10, as he was informed on a short notice and he had a scheduled meeting in a mountain barangay on the same day.
“If it’s the party’s stand, then I would agree also. I will be in favor of that,” he said.
The ruling party’s move earned disapproval from opposition Cebu City Councilor Joy Augustus Young.
“I feel sick upon hearing about it,” Young said.
Ryan Dave Rayla, a political science professor in Cebu City, said under the 1987 Constitution, the president’s term is limited to only six years with no reelection. Letting Duterte run for the vice presidency, said Rayla, is “technically allowed” as the Constitution has no provision preventing an outgoing
President from seeking a lower elective post.
The move of Duterte-allied local officials urging Duterte to run for vice president “is a clear indication that he and his allies are intent on consolidating the power of his political party,” Rayla said.
Granting, Duterte would run for the vice presidential post and he would win it, this would mean that he is not stepping down from power, Rayla said.
If Duterte’s annointed successor wins the presidency, Rayla said:
“We can assume that the signature policies started by Duterte and PDP-Laban will continue to be pursued by the new administration.”