Manila Standard : Solid North sees Bongbong-Sara ‘ultimate’ team

27 August 2021

By Rey E. Requejo and Macon Ramos-Araneta | Manila Standard

Political leaders in the so-called “Solid North” are pushing for what they described as the ultimate “Dream Team” in next year’s presidential and vice presidential race.

“Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. for president and Sara Duterte for vice president would be the right positioning if we consider the duo’s political exposure and experience,” said a congressman from the alliance of political bigwigs in the northern Luzon provinces, who asked he not be named.

The political heavyweights of the Ilocandia provinces met with Bongbong last July 25 to convince the former senator to join next year’s presidential race after an earnest discussion of his winnability.

Meanwhile, no “face-off” will happen between Sara, the daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte, and his long-time aide, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, said Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

Cusi, President of his faction in the PDP-Laban, on Friday said he doesn’t see a confrontation happening between Duterte-Carpio and Go, the ruling party’s preferred standard bearer in the 2022 national elections.

“Sen. Go has high regard and respect for the Dutertes that it’s unthinkable to even think of such a scenario,” stressed Cusi.

The San Juan meeting, which was arranged by Sen. Imee Marcos as a pre-State of the Nation Address merienda at the Marcos house in San Juan City, was attended by more than 50 congressmen, governors, and political leaders, led by League of Municipalities president and Narvacan Mayor Chavit Singson and Isabela Governor Rudito Albano.

Also present during the meeting was League of Provinces president and Marinduque Gov. Presbitero Jose Velasco Jr., who urged Marcos Jr. to follow his dream and seek the presidency.

Reacting to reports that Bongbong is set to pair with Sara as vice president, another senior leader of the closely-knit political group, who also requested anonymity, said: “Our previous decision to support the former senator in his bid for the presidency remained firm and unchanged, and we will also support whoever vice presidential bet he will take with him.”

The Ilocano leader stressed that seniority “must also count in preparing for a tandem that is expected to lead the nation through a stormy voyage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.”

He explained that the presidential daughter appears to be a brilliant local political leader as chief executive of Davao City but has a lot more to learn from the experience and exposure of the former senator, congressman, and governor of Ilocos Norte with respect to national governance.

“Sara needs nurturing in national governance and will surely get her full political maturity after six years of running the country as a bright and able deputy to the President… after all she’s very much younger than Bongbong,” added the Solid North leader.

Nonetheless, the Solid North leader acknowledged that pairing Bongbong with Sara, who is holding the biggest majority of the Solid South, or Mindanao, in her presidential run is “truly a political marriage made in heaven.”

The Cusi faction, meanwhile, has endorsed Go for president and President Duterte as his running mate in next year’s elections. But Go has repeatedly said he is not interested in seeking the country’s highest elective position, even as he thanked PDP-Laban for endorsing him.

Go said he would merely rely on what the decision of the President and the Davao mayor would be and would just fully support them. He also urged his partymates to prioritize those who want to run for President because he merely wants to focus on his job as a senator.

He said his utmost concern in the 2022 elections is the continuity of the good reforms of the Duterte government.

The Cusi faction took note of the presidential daughter’s remark that she should not be dragged in the discussions the political plan of her father and Go, raising speculations she will make her own bid for the presidency.

“I don’t think that kind of scenario will happen. That is the position of PDP Laban. So, we are going through with our preparations for the October filing (of the Certificate of Candidacy) and the 2022 elections,” Cusi said in a radio interview.

On Thursday, Malacanang said President Duterte has decided to run for Vice President in the 2022 elections because he thought his daughter will not run for president.

“Delicadeza dictates that only one Duterte will run. So since only one Duterte will run, and, in his perception, Mayor Sara will not run then he can run for vice president,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

Cusi clarified that he cannot predict the decision of the Davao mayor regarding her political plans for 2022.

“We are planning, and we are making our decisions based on the Go-Duterte tandem. Now, if there is any change in the political landscape along the way, we are going to face it when the time comes,” Cusi said.

He also said PDP Laban would welcome it if the Davao mayor decided to endorse the Go-Duterte tandem.

“Let’s say Mayor Sara will endorse the tandem of Bong Go-President Duterte, wow! We will welcome that. I personally would say that it would be good for our party,” he said.