PDP-Laban’s Cusi wing picks Sara for VP, says not yet convinced with Marcos

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 21) — A faction of the administration party announced Friday that Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte is its easy pick for vice presidential bet in the 2022 elections, but could not say the same for her running mate, former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr.

Members of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) led by their president, Energy Secretary Alfonsi Cusi, formally adopted Mayor Duterte as their candidate for VP.

In an online media interview, Cusi said choosing the mayor was “an easy task to decide,” considering that she was a former member of PDP-Laban which is chaired by her father, President Rodrigo Duterte. However, Cusi stressed it does not mean the party would automatically support the Marcos-Duterte tandem.

“We are in the process of evaluating who among the candidates would best continue the programs that this administration has started,” Cusi said.

Pressed on what’s preventing the Cusi wing from endorsing Marcos, Cusi said, “we still have to be convinced.”

Kasi kung kumbinsido na tayo, kung talagang ganoon na ‘yan, bakit hindi 'di ba (Because if we’re already convinced about that, then why not)?” Cusi said.

Syempre sa pulitiko ngayon lahat, pati langit, pati impyerno, ipapangako natin, pero ang kwan doon, ano ba talaga ang gagawin natin (Of course for politicians now, we would promise voters heaven, even in hell, but the question is what would we really do). So, it’s the credibility of the person,” he added.

Cusi clarified he’s not singling out Marcos, but cited the need to scrutinize the track record of all politicians seeking the presidency.

“If you have an argument why Bongbong Marcos or any candidate will fit the PDP’s principles and ideology e sabihin niyo sa amin (then tell us),” he added.

PDP-Laban is still finalizing the terms of its alliance agreement with the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD), a major party recently joined by its now chairman Mayor Duterte. Cusi said there are currently no talks with Marcos’ Partido Federal ng Pilipinas.

Marcos' spokesperson, lawyer Vic Rodriguez, called the endorsement a "unilateral move," absent the signing of any accord with Mayor Duterte or her party.

"As far as the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, the party of presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos, and the UniTeam are concerned, such 'adoption' - though a UNILATERAL move by the PDP-Laban (Cusi faction) - deserves our utmost respect," he said.

But in a separate statement, Lakas-CMD co-chairman Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla thanked PDP-Laban and confirmed that an alliance between the two parties is being forged.

Earlier, Duterte publicly berated Marcos, even calling him a “weak leader,” but Cusi refused to comment on how this will affect the party’s selection process.

The ruling party is not fielding its own candidates for the top two positions following a curious turn of events – Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa backed out of the race for Malacañang and was substituted by former VP bet Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, who later also withdrew his presidential bid. The other PDP-Laban faction led by their presidential candidate Senator Manny Pacquiao used the Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance of an allied party due to the infighting yet to be settled by the Commission on Elections.

Last week, Comelec dismissed the Cusi group’s petition to reopen the filing of certificates of candidacy and suspend the printing of ballots. Cusi said they’re still studying their next move, considering their latest decision to back Mayor Duterte’s candidacy.

The group is also not ruling out the possibility of reconciling with the Pacquiao camp but Cusi said there are no talks at the moment.

Cusi said there's also a possibility their group would not to endorse any presidential aspirant and just focus on campaigning for their candidates seeking lower posts.