Rodrigo Duterte may take a page from ally Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who ran for and won a seat in Congress after stepping down from the presidency.
But unlike the former president who became a member of the House of Representatives, Duterte may go for a seat in the Senate. And where Macapagal-Arroyo became speaker of the House for a short period, Duterte may aim to become Senate President.
This possible scenario was raised last week after the Cusi wing of the PDP-Laban asked the President to consider running for the upper chamber of the Philippines’ bicameral Congress in next year’s elections.
Malacañang confirmed that the President was not discounting the possibility, one month after announcing his retirement from politics.
“As Sen. Bong Go said, he is considering it,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said during a media briefing.
The President had earlier accepted then rejected PDP-Laban’s draft for him to run for vice-president, stepping aside in favor of his former assistant Go.
Duterte even accompanied Go to the Commission on Elections last month when the latter filed his Certificate of Candidacy.
The President’s aborted vice-presidential run came following a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showing that the majority of Filipinos believed such a candidacy was unconstitutional.
And whlle the Cusi wing of PDP-Laban already announced its senatorial slate, the concurrent Energy secretary said some of their bets were willing to give way to the president if Duterte opted to run.
Recruiting the President was a second choice after his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, rejected the possibility of running for president under PDP-Laban. As a result, the party nominated Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa to be their standard bearer in next year’s polls, in tandem with Go.
It should be noted that Dela Rosa and Go are both neophyte senators and did not do well in early surveys.
As for the president’s possible senate run, an ally of Duterte said doing so would make him look like “a clown.”
Peter Tiu Laviña, a convenor for Sara All Philippines 2022 which is pushing for the Davao City mayor to run for president, said Duterte’s possible senate run was “not funny at all.”
He said Duterte has never been comfortable as a lawmaker, as proven by his forgettable stint as a member of the House of Representatives representing Davao City.
Said Laviña, who served as spokesman of then candidate Duterte’s 2016 campaign, “First, they attacked the Senate as a circus. Now they want him to join the freak show.”
He added that Duterte was a “man of action,” who detested sitting in a debating club and listening to “nonsense.”
He also said that Duterte previously stated he did not enjoy his one-term stint in the House.
Aside from his health issues, another reason Duterte has not yet agreed to a senatorial run is his declining popularity. Previous surveys from the SWS and Pulse Asia had shown him reaching heights of popularity unmatched by previous presidents but the latest surveys show that he is only scoring a popularity score in the low 50s.
Before running for president in 2016, Duterte served as Davao City mayor and vice-mayor. He was first appointed vice-mayor of Davao City in 1986, immediately after the People Power revolt.
Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio has until November. 15 to change her mind and agree to run for president, in which case Sen. Dela Rosa has said on several occasions that he would step aside for her as a substitute candidate.
Meanwhile, former president Macapagal-Arroyo is again running for a seat in the House next year as a representative of her native Pampanga province.