Sen. Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, one of the advocates of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, will run for president in the 2022 national polls under the ruling party, PDP-Laban.

It was another surprise move by the PDP-Laban faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

Sen. Christopher “Lawrence” Bong Go is the party’s vice presidential bet in the 2022 elections, replacing Duterte who backed out to retire.

De la Rosa, who was elected senator in 2019, did not dispel rumors of him being a placeholder for Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte after he filed his certificate of candidacy for president.

Asked if he was a placeholder for the presidential daughter, he said: “E di mas maganda.”

The younger Duterte has been reluctant about a national post in 2022, but members of the PDP-Laban and allies of her father have been pushing her to run for president.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque ended his Oct. 7 virtual presser, saying: “Ito po ang inyong Spox Harry Roque na nananalangin na sana po iyong gusto ng nakakaraming Pilipino na tumakbo ng presidente, Sara Duterte, ay dinggin po ang hinaing ng sambayanan.”

PDP-Laban is no stranger to last-minute substitutions. The same strategy was used by the party in 2016 when now-President Duterte substituted Martin Diño as its standard-bearer.

For the 2022 elections, parties may still substitute their candidates until Nov. 15. John Ezekiel J. Hirro