As the deadline for the filing of candidacies lapsed yesterday, Davao City Mayor and presidential daughter Sara Duterte remained adamant about not running for President. According to her, she is will just run for her third and final term as Mayor.

However, the younger Duterte’s consistent denial is hardly believable. She has been working on strengthening her ties to politicians across the country starting 2018 through her party Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP). Her camp has also been in a virtual campaign mode since last year – putting up campaign billboards, organizing motorcades, and even commissioning rapper Andrew E. for an election jingle. She also threw her weight around during the 2019 senatorial elections, and helped engineer the ouster of two former House Speakers: Pantaleon Alvarez and Alan Peter Cayetano.

Of course, it can still be recalled that in 2015, her father President Rodrigo Duterte, was just a substitute candidate for president of PDP-Laban when its supposed “standard bearer” Martin Diño withdrew. As reported by The Filipino Scribe, Commission on Elections (COMELEC) resolution 10695 stipulates that 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.

sara duterte 2022
(Photo credits: Facebook page of Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte)

FIrst of all, it must be emphasized that former Palace spokesperson Ernesto Abella cannot be the decoy because he is running as an independent presidential candidate. COMELEC quickly clarified yesterday that independent candidates cannot be substituted.

Hence, with less than an hour left before the filing period for candidacies ended, Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa came out of nowhere to file his candidacy for president under PDP-Laban even if he is wearing the campaign shirt of Hugpong ng Pagbabago. Dela Rosa denied that he is a “joke candidate” although he made it clear that he would like it if Duterte substitutes for him eventually.

So, how can Duterte end up running for president?

1) Dela Rosa will suddenly “withdraw” his candidacy.
2) Duterte will take her oath as a new member of PDP-Laban up until November 15, 2021.
3) The party will then nominate her as their presidential candidate.
4) She will then have to file her certificate of nomination and acceptance or CONA as well as her new certificate of candidacy or COC before the COMELEC.

As it is, the landscape for the 2022 presidential and vice presidential race is still evolving and we may have to wait for five more weeks before the field becomes truly settled.

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