He might not be the best, but he was the only one available.
This was what PDP-Laban secretary-general Melvin Matibag said regarding Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa's candidacy for president under their political party.
“We’re not saying he is the best because originally, we were pushing for Senator Bong Go, but sabi nga namin, an alternative is Senator Bato,” Matibag said in an interview on the ABS-CBN News Channel
Matibag later also gave credit to dela Rosa's career as a public official.
"Hindi naman natin siguro puwedeng sukatin yung qualification o kakayahan ng tao based on how long he is in a position as a politician," he said about dela Rosa, who was elected as a senator in 2019. "Nakita naman natin na he rose from a mababang position and now he's a senator."
Dela Rosa himself also said that he was roped in by PDP-Laban to run for president just two hours before the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy on Oct. 8.
“Tinawagan ako 3 o’clock in the afternoon na pumunta sa Sofitel para mag-file ng COC,” the presidential aspirant said in an online briefing.
Dela Rosa said he was told by PDP-Laban president Alfonso Cusi, “Wala na tayong ibang nakitang puwedeng magpatuloy sa legacy ni President Duterte na iiwan, kundi ikaw. Yung laban natin sa droga, criminality, corruption, insurgency—lahat-lahat, ikaw ang pwedeng magpatuloy kaya pumunta ka dito para mag-file ka ng COC mo.”
How did he respond to that call? “Okay, I’ll be there, pero malayo ako ha, baka ma-traffic ako.” Dela Rosa then recalled rushing to the venue for the COC filing at the hotel’s Harbor Garden Tent. “Iyon na, ginawa namin ‘yung COC at nag-file.”
Dela Rosa said being a last-minute candidate is no issue for him
“Hindi ako nasaktan. I must be proud of it—na ako ang napili, finally, I must be proud of it,” he said.
“Although last-minute na choice, being the top choice of the party is a great honor for me and I’m proud of that. Bakit ako masasaktan?” he added.
The former chief of the Philippine National Police, who headed Duterte’s anti-illegal drugs campaign before his stint as a senator, said that he will push through with Oplan Tokhang should his presidential bid be a success.
He can, however, give way to Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio if she changes her mind about running for the highest position of the state.
“Alam ko na puwedeng magkaroon ng replacement. Hintayin natin hanggang Nov. 15 kung meron talagang pagbabago man,” he said. “I am a good soldier, I will abide by party rules and decision. Kung ano ang sabihin ng partido, we will abide by it.”