Kontra Daya: Did Duterte, Go quit ruling party?
MANILA, Philippines — The poll watchdog Kontra Daya wants to know if President Rodrigo Duterte and his former aide, Sen. Bong Go, were properly sworn in as members of an unknown political party where they substituted as candidates for senator and president, respectively, in the 2022 elections.
Substitution due to voluntary withdrawal of one’s certificate of candidacy (COC) is allowed between members of the same political party, even if the substitute became a member only recently.
In a statement on Tuesday, Kontra Daya challenged Mr. Duterte and Go to disclose when they resigned from the administration party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) and officially joined the unheard-of Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan (PDDS).
At least Mr. Duterte’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, made public that she had quit her local party, Hugpong ng Pagbabago, and took her oath as a member of Lakas-CMD before she substituted as the latter’s vice presidential candidate, Kontra Daya pointed out.
It added: “We cannot say the same for Rodrigo Duterte and Bong Go. If they are indeed transparent as public officials, they should fully disclose when they resigned from PDP-Laban and when they took their oath as members of PDDS.”
On Monday, the last day for voluntary withdrawal of COCs and substitutions at the Commission on Elections (Comelec), a representative filed Mr. Duterte’s COC as a substitute senatorial candidate of PDDS.
Earlier, Go withdrew his COC as vice presidential candidate under PDP-Laban and filed a new COC as substitute presidential candidate of PDDS.
Also on Monday, Mr. Duterte denied being under Go’s control, as claimed by Antonio Parlade Jr., a former spokesperson of the anti-insurgency task force and now, like Go, a presidential candidate.
Mr. Duterte justified Go’s regular presence at his meetings with Cabinet officials by saying that Go had to be there as chair of the Senate health committee.
Per the Comelec, 22 aspirants for national positions withdrew their COCs between Oct. 8, supposedly the last day for those running in the 2022 elections to file their COCs, and Nov. 15.
Ten were substituted—two for president, two for vice president and six for senator. The rest had no substitutes—three for president, four for vice president and five for senator.
As of Oct. 8, 97 people had filed COCs for president, 29 for vice president and 176 for senator. The Comelec will issue a final list of candidates around December.
So far the poll body has initiated petitions to declare as “nuisance candidates” 82 of the aspirants for president, 15 for vice president and 108 for senator. It has received petitions to cancel the COC of at least 91 national aspirants.
The Comelec will still accept substitutions until Election Day in May 2022, but only for candidates who have died or been disqualified. The substitute must have the same last name as the original candidate. An aspirant may still personally withdraw, but can no longer be substituted.
‘Part of the problem’
According to Parlade, a retired general, Go is “part of the problem” of the country and controls the decisions of the President—a claim that the latter disputed in his regular public address on Monday.
“I need Bong actually, not for everything, because Bong is the chairperson of the Senate committee on health and demography. He is in charge of health, so it’s good for him to be here. But he does not control anybody, he does not control me, he is here to do his duty of being somebody we could ask questions immediately,” Mr. Duterte said.
Go has been an aide to Mr. Duterte since his time as Davao City mayor, and joined him in Malacañang as special assistant before getting elected to the Senate in 2019.
Even as a senator, he remains a fixture beside the President.
Mr. Duterte decided to run for senator because he wanted to continue serving the people and not because he wanted to avoid prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC), Cabinet Secretary and acting presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles said on Tuesday.
“The ICC case has nothing to do with [his] decision to run for senator. [He] wanted to continue his service to the people. And because his term as president is ending, he believes in his heart that he still can contribute to public service, no longer as president but now as senator, if he wins,” Nograles said in a briefing. —With reports from Jerome Aning and Julie M. Aurelio INQ
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