President Rodrigo Duterte on December 14 dropped his certificate of candidacy (COC) for senator in the 2022 polls, said Commission on Elections spokesperson James Jimenez.

On the same day, Duterte’s long-time aide Sen. Bong Go also formalized  his withdrawal  from the presidential race in the upcoming 2022 polls.

Both Duterte and Go filed their candidacies under the Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan (PDDS).

In filing his COC for senator, the President substituted for Liezl Visorde of PDDS. Two days before this happened, Go filed a substitute COC for president, also under PDDS.

Presidential spokesperson Karlo Nograles confirmed that Duterte quit the race because he said he wanted to focus on his job in the government during the remaining months of his term. And that Duterte also wants to help in the country’s economic recovery amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the other hand, Go said, “As a matter of principle,  I’m no longer part of the 2022 presidential race. “I am a man of one word. I will fulfill whatever I have said,” he added.

The Senator related he made his decision to get out of the presidential race but he just waited  for the right time to file his withdrawal. “Honestly, I just rode a taxi here alone.

I just want enough time to make my supporters understand that my heart and mind are resisting the idea of running for president,” he said in an interview.

“I hope you can understand me and I’m asking my supporters for forgiveness, I assure you that I will still be here to serve you the best that I can,” he said.

Go’s supporters repeatedly threatened to put a barricade at Comelec’s main office in Manila to convince the Senator that he should continue his presidential bid in next year’s elections.

PDDS Executive Director Glenn Badon said they would stop Go from his plan not to continue his withdrawal.

Although they  “understand” Go’s decision, he guaranteed they are willing to “make him win” for the campaign. They believe Go is the “right person” to continue what Duterte already started.

Meanwhile, Presidential aspirant Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Duterte and Go have chosen peace as their path.

“Let’s give it to them and wish them well,” also said Lacson who is running under Partido Reporma together with his vice-presidential bet Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

Sotto said the  withdrawal of  Duterte and  Go  in next year’s national elections is a wise move. He said it takes a wise man to sacrifice something that he loves and give way to others who can serve the country better.

Another Presidential hopeful,  Sen. Manny Pacquiao, said,  ” Let us respect his decision because he has the right to do what he believes would be good for him.”

Pacquiao said this would surely solidify the support of Mindanao for his candidacy. ” Of course, we are now the only Mindanaoan and Visayan at bisaya running for President. Kanino pa ba susuporta ang mga taga Mindanao at mga Bisaya kundi yung kagaya rin nila, ” Pacquiao said.

Pacquiao said that although there are times that he would criticize President Duterte, he is supportive of his administration’s  programs to develop Mindanao. He said he is committed to continue the President’s development agenda for  Mindanao.

Health Reform Advocate Dr. Tony Leachon said, “It would be difficult for a president  to lose in a senate race. I think it’s best for him to rest and enjoy his retirement.”

On Go’s withdrawal, he said, “It’s too premature to run for president.”

Instead, he said Go should focus on his senate chairmanship for health. That he can add value to the country if he could craft health policies to finally curb the pandemic and improve the healthcare system,  prevent migration of healthcare workers , revitalize Philhealth , implement the universal healthcare law and build more hospitals in the countryside.

Heydrich Gulpani, a seaman who lives in Las Pinas City said there’s no need for Duterte to run for a senate seat if he is only after protection from criminal charges. Being a lawyer, he said Duterte knows how to handle his cases. He also mentioned the absence of strong evidence against him.

Reacting to Go dropping his bid, he said perhaps the former presidential aide realized he will not win over former senator Bongbong Marcos in the upcoming elections.