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Duterte on presidential run as substitute candidate: Let's see in December

Commenting on speculation about whether he would pursue a presidential bid as a substitute candidate, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said supporters will know his answer at the deadline.

"'Yan kasi ang iniisip ng mga tao, alangan namang banggain mo," GMA Davao quoted Duterte as saying in Bisaya.

"People are again speculating on a candidacy come December during the substitution month. Para matapos na lang, wala nang ingay, o sige — tingnan natin sa Disyembre."

But while he may be open to having a change of heart, the mayor reiterated that he is not interested in the presidency.

Under the rules of the Commission on Elections, a candidate may voluntarily withdraw and be substituted by a party mate on or before December 10.

PDP-Laban's Martin Diño, a party-mate of Duterte, has filed his candidacy for the top post.

There has been speculation that Diño's filing an hour before deadline last October 16 was a way to open a window for Duterte to substitute for the presidential bid.

However, both the mayor and Diño, chairman of Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), have denied this.

Days after the deadline of filing, the Comelec regional office in Davao said Duterte might not be able to substitute for Diño since he filed his COC for mayor as a member of local party Hugpong sa Taong Lungsod.

Assistant Regional Director Atty. Marlon Casquejo, however, clarified on Wednesday that the poll body's legal department was still looking at the possibility of Duterte dropping his affiliation with Hugpong.

He added that the matter was up to the poll body's legal department.

No talks with Cayetano

In the GMA Davao report, Duterte also denied that negotiations are still ongoing between him and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, a vice presidential aspirant.

Earlier, Cayetano said he spoke to the mayor on the phone after the filing of certificates of candidacy last week to check on the latter's family.

He added that they will "talk again in person in a few days." 

Cayetano said he is "not losing hope" on Duterte pursuing the highest office in the land. However, he added that their next conversation would be "a free-flowing discussion."

When he filed his COC for vice president barely two hours before deadline, Cayetano had hoped that Duterte would be at the Comelec main office in Manila to file his COC for president.

"Change is coming. By faith, I believe Duterte is coming," he said back then.

Supporters flocked to Comelec headquarters starting on October 15, saying the mayor was going to heed their call.

Some of them even had their heads shaved to signify their support, as his daughter, Sara, did. Others brought with them streamers and tarpaulin signs that told the mayor, "Mas matigas ang ulo namin."

On that afternoon, however, Duterte's representatives filed his COC for reelection in Davao City.

Supporters stayed at Comelec until the following day, counting the hours to the 5 p.m. deadline in the hopes that the mayor would change his mind.

Duterte, however, did not show up, instead releasing a message that he was again not interested to be president. —Rose-An Jessica Dioquino/JST, GMA News