MANILA – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday revealed that Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte made a last-minute effort to persuade him to run for senator despite her decision not to join the presidential race in the 2022 national elections.
“I will reveal for the first time that on the last day of filing, Mayor Sara called me and she in fact said that I should run, she was persuading me to run,” Roque said in an interview at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay news forum hosted by Marichu Villanueva.
Roque previously said he will only run for senator if Sara will seek the presidency.
Sara eventually filed for reelection as mayor of Davao City, her third and final term for that position.
However, Roque said told Sara that he was determined not to pursue his Senate bid unless she would run for the country’s highest elected position.
“Although she was persuading me na talagang (to) go ahead and run, I said I will not,” he added.
Political parties only have until Nov. 15 to replace their candidates for the 2022 polls.
Roque was in the initial lineup of guest candidates of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) which fielded Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa as its standard bearer just hours before the deadline.
Despite the decision of the People’s Reform Party (PRP) to count Roque as senatorial candidate, he said he had to stick to his word. The PRP is the political party formed by the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.
“I found out just recently that PRP has apparently asked someone to file by way of substitution giving me the opportunity to run on or before Nov. 15. But I will reiterate my position since Mayor Sara is not running, I find it difficult to change my decision as well,” he said.
Although Roque said his Senate bid is now off the table, he said his decision to run under the PRP political party was because he valued his independence.
“I took the view that it is better to be part of an independent party and not really the administration party because I value my independence,” he said.
He also admitted that it is “more difficult” to run in the 2022 polls because traditional campaign donors are unable to give contributions.
“There’s hardly any money that came this time around. I think it’s because times are really hard up and the traditional campaign donors are unable to give any contribution. That’s actually now part of reality; you cannot run if you do not have the money. And unlike 2019, I have no money,” he said.
Meanwhile, Roque said he still had “unfinished business” with Sara, specifically involving discussions on the possibility of party-building to absorb supporters pushing her to run for president.
“I really want to discuss the possibility of party building para ma-absorb yung mga supporters nila na feeling paano na ngayon sila (to absorb supporters who felt abandoned) since Mayor Sara did not run. But I still feel strongly na (that) I will need to have that conversation with her to discuss how to deal with the supporters who until now are still hoping she will run,” he said.
He noted that their meeting had to be postponed after Sara and her family contracted Covid-19.
“I did say na (that) we have to sit down and talk about what to do with her followers and we’ve not had the opportunity to discuss because right after the last day of filing, she developed Covid together with the members of her family,” he said. (PNA)