Duterte’s initial list of senatorial bets bared

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President Rodrigo Duterte at a PDP-Laban campaign event in 2019 (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 20) — A ranking official of the ruling PDP-Laban party on Tuesday gave a sneak peek of President Rodrigo Duterte’s possible senatorial bets in the 2022 elections.

Eastern Samar Governor Ben Evardone, PDP-Laban vice president for the Visayas, told CNN Philippines Duterte has discussed the initial list with some leaders of the party, including him.

“That's his personal list. Based on his consultations with several leaders and personalities,” Evardone said. “He's still finalizing it and hopefully it will be finalized before the PDP-Laban national congress in September where all the candidates will be proclaimed by PDP-Laban.”

On the list are Cabinet members and officials of the Duterte administration, including: Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Benhur Abalos, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission Chairman Greco Belgica, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gregorio Honasan II, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, and Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar.

He said Duterte is also considering reelectionist Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri, and those eyeing a return to the chamber — House Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda and former Senator JV Ejercito.

Actors Robin Padilla and Willie Revillame and media personality Raffy Tulfo are also part of the possible lineup, he added.

“They have not confirmed that they are actually running but they are just being considered by the President,” Evardone said, referring to all the 16 names he mentioned. “He (Duterte) will have a series of consultations pa.”

In a press briefing on Monday, Roque said there is no final list yet, although he said the President has always been mentioning certain names.

Meanwhile, Duterte has not given a clear answer on whether he will run for vice president, even during the PDP-Laban national assembly he had presided last Saturday, Evardone said.

Some members of the party, particularly the group led by newly elected party president Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, are urging Duterte to seek the vice presidency and choose his running mate. "Crossing party lines," more than 20 other provincial governors issued a statement to support this call, Evardone said.

Another group within PDP-Laban wants Senator Manny Pacquiao, whom they still consider as party president, to be the standard bearer. The boxer-turned-lawmaker has been at odds with Duterte and was ousted during the national assembly. Senator Koko Pimentel, PDP-Laban executive vice chairman, supports Pacquiao’s presidential bid.

The warring factions are expected to submit different sets of officers, members, and other party information to the Commission on Elections, leaving the poll body to decide which wing is legitimate, based on the party's constitution and bylaws.