Bato: 'Deep in my heart, I am hoping' for Sara's substitution

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 12) — Presidential aspirant Sen. Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa is not affected by what others suspect of being a "placeholder" for reelectionist Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte in the 2022 polls, but he admitted that he personally wants the presidential daughter to change her mind.

In his interview with CNN Philippines' The Source on Tuesday, Dela Rosa was asked whether he is still hoping that Mayor Duterte will still end up being the candidate of PDP-Laban, chaired by her father, President Rodrigo Duterte.

"Deep in my heart I am hoping, hangga't wala pang November 15 I am hoping, but it's up for Mayor Inday Sara kung ano talagang magiging decision niya (whatever her decision will be)," he said.

"Matagal ko nang pangarap na tumakbo siya bilang pangulo because her winnability is very, very high," Dela Rosa added. "Kilala ko siya, ang capability niya to lead this country. Kayang kaya niya."

[Translation: I have long been dreaming for her to run for president because her winnability is very, very high. I know her, I know her capability to lead this country. She can do it.]

RELATED: Asked to file candidacy 2 hours before deadline, Bato says substitution in back of mind 

Dela Rosa also reiterated that he will still abide by the decision of his party and the President. But if it were up to him, he'd rather not split the votes if Mayor Duterte will end up running for the national post.

"Ako, personally mas maganda kung isa na lang sa amin ang tatakbo para hindi mahahati. Still, I have to abide by party decision. Kung ano sabihin ng partido susunod ako," he said.

[Translation: Personally, I'd prefer if only one of us will run so that the votes won't be split. Still, I have to abide by the party decision. Whatever the party decides, I will follow.]

Dela Rosa also openly admitted his lack of leverage compared to other presidential aspirants like former Sen. Bongbong Marcos, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Sen. Ping Lacson, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, and Vice President Leni Robredo, as he himself was not included in the initial pollster surveys on preferred presidents.

"I am not claiming to be superior to any other candidates. Right now, I even believe kung magkakaroon ng survey ngayon, baka ako ang nasa pinakailalim, pinaka-ibaba. No problem with that but still I will not surrender. Andyan ako for one big fight," he said.

[Translation: I even believe that if a survey would be held today, I might be at the bottom. No problem with that but still I will not surrender. I am here for one big fight.]

PDP-Laban secretary general Melvin Matibag said they are already prepared to roll out the caravan for Dela Rosa, who will run in tandem with vice presidential aspirant Sen. Bong Go. They are so far sticking to their two bets and are preparing for other developments that might unfold until November 15, the deadline of substitution for political contenders in the 2022 polls.

READ: Bato-Go caravan underway, says PDP-Laban exec