Duterte signs CONA as VP bet, party mates still counting on Go

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 23) — A faction in the ruling PDP-Laban party believes President Rodrigo Duterte's vice presidential bid in the 2022 elections is now set in stone with his signing of the Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance (CONA).

In a media briefing on Thursday, the group led by their president, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, said Duterte signed the CONA in Davao City Wednesday night. Cusi was present, along with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea who's also a member of the party.

"It confirms na tatakbo talaga siya (that he will really run) in 2022 for vice president," Cusi said.

"That is the implication. Kasi wala naman nang (because we do not see any) reason for him to withdraw it," the group's Secretary General, Melvin Matibag added.

The Cusi wing earlier nominated Senator Christopher "Bong" Go as presidential candidate, but the lawmaker and former Special Assistant to the President declined. His allies expect him to change his mind in time for the filing of certificates of candidacy at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on October 1 to 8.

"Sana yung action ni Presidente to sign officially yung nomination ng PDP-Laban, sana will help Senator Bong Go to decide on the matter nang mas mabilis," Matibag said.

[Translation: We're hoping the President's action to officially sign the nomination will help Senator Bong Go decide on the matter faster.]

Matibag said party chairman Duterte was the first national nominee to sign the CONA, but meetings are set for other aspirants in the coming days. The group also inked an alliance agreement with the political party Pederalismo ng Duong Dakilang Samahan on Thursday. The party's president, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission head Greco Belgica, is part of PDP-Laban's initial senatorial slate.

The other faction, led by their president, Senator Manny Pacquiao and chairman, Senator Aquilino "Koko " Pimentel III, is expected to issue their own CONAs. They have nominated Pacquiao as standard bearer.

Comelec has given Pacquiao's camp until September 27 to comment on the petition filed by the Cusi wing seeking to declare them as "illegitimate officers" of PDP-Laban. Pimentel earlier said they will respond to the petition.