DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Mayor Rodrigo Duterte held a meeting with his close allies and political advisers and drew a “Dream Team” of senatorial candidates.
Former North Cotabato governor Emmanuel Piñol said on Thursday that they were expecting Duterte to make an announcement on his presidential bid anytime, possibly by the weekend.
Those included in Duterte’s “Dream Team” – which was decided upon during a meeting from Wednesday evening to early Thursday – were veteran lawmakers Serge Osmeña and Panfilo Lacson; Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao; Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez; ACT-CIS Representative Samuel Pagdilao; Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno; and former Senator Miguel Zubiri. (Duterte also included Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar but there were reports from the House of Representatives that the son of property tycoon and former senator Manny Villar has decided not to run.)
Piñol said Duterte has admitted that Zubiri’s inclusion would have to be referred to Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, head of the Partido Demokratio Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban). PDP-Laban is among political groups that have been pushing for Duterte’s presidency.
Zubiri and Pimentel had a bitter rivalry during the 2010 elections. Zubiri eventually resigned from the Senate after it was established that he won during the vote-rigging operations allegedly conducted by operators of the Arroyo administration.
Piñol said Duterte had said he would only support those who have expressed support for his advocacy against crime, corruption and drugs; and his efforts to bring to the peace table the rebel groups who have been fighting government for decades.”
Piñol said Duterte’s political advisers considered the list of eight senatoriables as better than fielding an entire slate.
“The lean Senate slate is preferred by the Duterte camp because of financial limitations,” Piñol said. SFM