Presidential  candidate Sen. Panfilo Lacson on November 15 said he was not surprised by the last-minute changes in the candidates of the ruling PDP-Laban for the upcoming  2022 elections. 

Interviewed over ANC on Monday, Lacson said he initially thought the administration would put up a “solid” team.

However, his impression changed after former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, who also served as Lakas-CMD party Secretary Gen., told him that Energy Sec Alfonso Cusi expressed fears the administration will not have a candidate for next year’s elections.

Cusi is the president of the one faction in PDP-Laban. The other is led by Sen. Manny Pacquiao, another presidential candidate running under PROMDI, an alliance of PDP-Laban.

Pacquiao did not file his candidacy under PDP-Laban as the Comelec is yet to decide on which of the two factions of the ruling  party is legitimate.

“That is why I was not surprised with these development because of those initial information that we were getting from within,” said Lacson.

Alvarez, once with PDP-Laban officials when Rodrigo Duterte was elected President in 2016, is now with Lacson in Partido Reporma.

Cusi’s PDP-Laban wing  is rallying  behind the presidency of Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go who is running under Partido ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan (PDDS). 

“They were speaking directly to each other because they are close friends. So, we are no longer surprised what had happened,” said Lacson.

Hontiveros noted that last  Saturday, there were several shake-ups in the presidential and vice- presidential race.

Speculation on Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio to run for president ended after she filed her certificate of candidacy for president under Lakas-NUCD.

There were also reports that Duterte might replace Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa as standard bearer of PDP-Laban. 

But Duterte did not take her oath before PDP-Laban, where her father sits as national chairman. 

The presidential daughter cited the party was in disarray and she does not want to be a “punching bag.”

Instead of the presidential daughter, it was Go, the vice-presidential bet of the Cusi wing, who substituted for Dela Rosa.

Hontiveros said anyone  who’s qualified has the right to run but they made it overly theatrical so it borders on disrespect

Furthermore, Hontiveros said anew that the recent developments in the presidential and vice- presidential race seemed to be straight from the “Duterte playbook” from 2016 when Duterte, who was then Davao City mayor, also announced his presidential bid the last minute.

“They are the ones who wrote this kind of script which has since made our electoral playbook. Even though under our current omnibus election code, substitution is allowed, it seems that they have developed this almost to the point of a crude art,” said Hontiveros. 

“This is what we have seen the past few days: that candidates or parties would keep people and voters guessing to capture the primary advantage for themselves but leaving at a disadvantage the proper preparation for the whole political system and the voters,” she added.