President Rodrigo Duterte stunned the political world Saturday afternoon (October 2) when he announced that he will be retiring from politics despite his earlier pronouncements that he is running for Vice President. Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, his trusted aide, was the one who filed his certificate of candidacy or COC for Vice President before the Commission on Elections instead.

It can be recalled that last month, the faction of the ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi endorsed Go as its presidential candidate with Duterte as running-mate.

In a related development, presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio likewise filed her candidacy for a third and final term as chief executive of the city. That is in line with her recent pronouncements that she is not running for President. Interestingly, her father himself said that she will be running with Go shortly after the senator filed his COC.

These events seem to suggest that the Dutertes may be bowing out of national politics after holding the presidency since 2016. However, action speaks louder than words – and we only have to look back to 2015 how this script played out.

Bong Go for Vice President 2022
Senator Bong Go is the one running for Vice President, not President Rodrigo Duterte (Credits: Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Throughout 2015, the elder Duterte went on a speaking tour across the country ostensibly to promote federalism. He consistently denied being interested in a presidential run, saying that he’d rather run for another term as Davao City Mayor even though he frequently made pronouncements about what he’ll do if he gets elected to the position. Duterte even filed the necessary paperwork for his re-election bid as Davao City Mayor, with Go filing the COC on his behalf.

Nevertheless, a little-known politician named Martin Diño filed his candidacy for president under PDP-Laban. Eventually, the party was able to exploit COMELEC’s deadline for the substitution of candidates. By late November 2015, Diño withdrew his candidacy with Duterte as substitute. The rest is history, as the cliche goes.

Given that the landscape for the 2022 presidential and vice presidential race is still evolving, it is possible that we will not have the final list of candidates by October 8, 2021 – the last day for the filing of candidacies. As per COMELEC Resolution 10695, November 15, 2021 is the last day for the substitute of an official candidate of a party or coalition who withdrew, died, or was disqualified to file a certificate of candidacy in order for the name of the substitute to appear on the official ballot.

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