Bato Dela Rosa to run for president in 2022

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 8)— Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa is eyeing a higher government post in 2022.

Dela Rosa submitted to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) his certificate of candidacy (COC) for president on Friday — the last day of filing.

He will be the standard bearer of the ruling party PDP-Laban, and will run alongside fellow senator Bong Go, who filed his COC for the vice presidency on Saturday.

Asked about the surprise move, Dela Rosa said hiding his candidacy was merely a “strategy.”

‘Yan ang diskarte, kasi kung maaga ka magbalita, titirahin ka talaga. Kaya tinatago natin,” Dela Rosa said in a speech after the filing, adding he has long been considered by the party to be its standard bearer for next year’s elections.

[Translation: That’s the strategy, because when you announce early, they’ll target you. That’s why we have been hiding it.]

The senator, however, said he would be willing to step aside if Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte eventually decides to run and would be adopted by the party.

“To be frank… just in case makapag-decide si Inday Sara na tumakbo at madesisyunan ng partido namin, PDP-Laban, na i-adopt siya as our standard bearer, no problem with me. I will abide by the party decisions,” Dela Rosa told CNN Philippines.

[Translation: To be frank… just in case Inday Sara decides to run and our party decides to adopt her as our standard bearer, no problem with me. I will abide by the party decisions.]

Substitution due to withdrawal of a candidate will be allowed until November 15, the Comelec earlier said.

Surprise candidate?

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, leader of the PDP-Laban faction that endorsed Dela Rosa, said the senator was their “secret candidate."

Cusi told CNN Philippines the backup plan was to field Dela Rosa if Go — the party’s initial nominee for the presidential post — declines the proposal. Go has repeatedly rejected PDP-Laban’s endorsement.

Not backing down

If Sara won’t run, Dela Rosa stressed he will not back down from the presidential race.

“In that case, kaya ako nag-file (I filed because), because I am running for the presidency,” Dela Rosa said. “Hindi ako aatras. Tuloy ko na ‘to (I won’t back out. I’ll push through with this).”

Prior to his stint at the Senate, Dela Rosa also served as the director general of the Bureau of Corrections and chief of the Philippine National Police — where he was at the forefront of the Duterte administration’s controversial war on drugs.

RELATED: Bato Dela Rosa vows to continue drug war, fight vs insurgency if elected president

CNN Philippines' Alyssa Rola and Eimor Santos contributed to this report.