With just weeks left before the 2016 national elections, then-Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. was already able to establish a small-but-significant lead over then-Congresswoman Maria Leonora “Leni” Robredo of Camarines Sur in the Vice Presidential race. This was reflected in the final pre-election surveys conducted by two reputable polling firms, Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations.

On paper, Marcos is the running-mate of Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago while then-Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte had Senator Alan Peter Cayetano as his VP nominee. While Marcos openly expressed his interest in running for VP with Duterte on top of the ticket – even going to Davao City to make his pitch, it did not become formalized. Nevertheless, there was a broad coalition of groups that pushed for the so-called Alyansang Duterte-Bongbong or ALDUB – an unofficial tandem between Duterte and Marcos that eventually received the endorsement of the powerful sect Iglesia ni Cristo.

However, instead of embracing Marcos, Duterte made moves that inevitably sunk his chances of becoming Vice President. For example, he ran advertisements emphasizing that Cayetano is his legitimate running-mate. “Kung magboto kayo sa akin, dapat botohan niyo rin si Alan. Dapat talaga andun si Alan. Para siya ang magsabi sa akin, ‘Mayor, mali yan.’ ‘Mayor, ganito dapat.’ Kung hindi kayo magboto kay Alan, wag niyo na akong botohan,” Duterte said.

For his part, Cayetano repeatedly attacked Marcos toward the final stretch of the campaign, especially during the first debate for VP candidates. Robredo eventually won the VP race by a little less than 300,000 votes over Marcos, with Cayetano edging Francis Escudero out of the third place. Evidently, Marcos would have been elected VP had Cayetano not siphoned enough Duterte voters that would have otherwise gone to him,

Bong Go for president 2022
President Rodrigo Duterte has endorsed the presidential candidacy of Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go (Facebook page of Senator Bong Go)

In a nod to their informal alliance during the 2016 elections, Duterte successfully pushed for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. to be buried at the National Heroes’ Cemetery (Libingan ng mga Bayani). And by 2019, Imee Marcos ran and won under his party’s senatorial ticket. Knowing that the Duterte and Marcos families have essentially the same base of supporters, it is logical for Duterte to anoint Marcos as his designated successor with his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio as running-mate. The Filipino Scribe previously reported on how it could happen, and it all played out this Saturday (November 13).

However, just when it seemed that everything has been settled for the administration side – yet another twist happened. Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa was widely expected to eventually withdraw his presidential candidacy from the get-go, and that happened yesterday. For his part, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go has also been throwing hints about not pursuing his VP bid anymore, and he did withdraw his candidacy for that position – only to file for the Presidency under the obscure party named Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan or PDDS. It was also announced that President Duterte will be filing his candidacy for Vice President by November 15. If it pushes through, then he will be up against his own daughter and a handful of other VP aspirants.

Interestingly, although Marcos’ party has adopted the younger Duterte as his running-mate, the Davao City Mayor is yet to formally accept that arrangement. Up until the end of the deadline for the withdrawal of candidacies and substitutions by 5:00 PM of November 15, the final lineup of candidates for the 2022 presidential and vice presidential races will not be settled.

However, one thing is apparent – President Duterte does not trust Marcos enough to endorse him wholeheartedly as his successor. Otherwise, his party won’t have to field Dela Rosa and now Go as presidential candidates. He can marshal all his forces to go all in to ensure a Marcos-Duterte victory in May 2022, but he’s not doing that. Duterte may have regarded the Marcoses as tactical allies since 2015, but he does not trust them enough as seen by his rejection of Bongbong as his official running-mate in 2016, and his refusal to endorse him as his successor for 2022. Duterte wants to perpetuate his influence in national politics for 2022 and beyond to protect himself from legal accountability, and Go is the only one he can trust for that.

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