Roque reveals option to run as substitute senatorial bet

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 20) — Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said he could still run for senator in next year's polls as a substitute candidate.

"I found out just recently that PRP (People's Reform Party) has apparently asked someone to file by way of substitution, giving me the opportunity to run on or before Nov. 15," Roque told a media forum on Wednesday.

That date is when the substitution period lapses, according to the Commission on Elections.

Substitution is allowed by law in the event any official party candidate dies, gets disqualified, or withdraws candidacy.

Roque, a member of the PRP, said he does not know who the original candidate is.

But he stood firm he will only run for senator if Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte seeks the presidency.

Roque also said the presidential daughter contacted him during the last day of the filing of candidacies on Oct. 8 to push him to run for senator in 2022.

"I told her, 'Ang hirap naman tumakbo na hindi ko talaga alam kung sino man 'yung ulo. How much more an ulo na I do not believe in,'" he recalled.

[Translation: I told her it would be hard for me to run without knowing who the leader will be. How much more a leader I do not believe in.]

"So, although she was persuading me to 'go ahead and run,' I said I will not," the spokesman added partly in Filipino.

Roque then disclosed he has an "unfinished business" with Mayor Duterte, as he expressed hope that she will still change her mind.

"We have to sit down and talk about what to do with her followers," he pointed out. "We've not had the opportunity to discuss, because right after the last day of filing, she developed COVID."

"I still feel strongly [that] I need to have that conversation with her to discuss how to deal with the supporters, who, until now, are hoping that she will run," Roque said.

Roque admitted he lacks resources to mount a political campaign, especially with the crisis brought by COVID-19.

He recalled the time he ran for senator in the 2019 midterm polls, when he had funds as early as the filing period.

"There's hardly any money that came in this time around," Roque confided. "I think it's because times are really hard, and the traditional campaign donors are unable to give any contribution."

"I really want to run for the Senate," he continued. "[But] I was not born rich; I was not born into a political family. I'm an ordinary person, and it's very difficult to run if you are an ordinary person. That's the harsh reality of life."

Ironically, Roque has not been endorsed by President Rodrigo Duterte, who chairs the ruling PDP-Laban party, to run for senator.

The spokesperson said he did not opt for the administration party "because I value my independence."