President Rodrigo Duterte said he would file his candidacy for vice president on Monday without addressing the possibility of running against his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
While seated beside trusted aide Sen. Bong Go who was filing his candidacy for president, a TV5 crew asked Duterte if he would pursue his plan to run for senator, to which the 76-year-old leader replied: "Magvi-vice."
Asked if he would run against his daughter Duterte-Carpio, who filed her bid for the vice presidency a few hours earlier, the elder Duterte said: "I don't know. Nag-file ba?"
"Monday na lang ako," he added, referring to when he would file his candidacy for vice president.
The President's exchange with TV5 was captured in this video from PTV, starting the 6:05 mark:
Duterte said on Oct. 2 that he was retiring from politics "in obedience to the will of the people" and was dropping his plan to run for vice president. The President had not explained why he changed his mind and was again planning to run for vice president.
Go's candidacy for president meant dropping his bid for the vice presidency. His running mate and fellow Duterte lieutenant, Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa abandoned his bid for the presidency without a substitute at PDP-Laban as Go susbsituted for a presidential candidate with a different party called PDDS.
Sara had not issued a statement since a representative filed her candidacy for vice president as a substitute under the Lakas-CMD party of ex-president Gloria Arroyo. She also had not commented on presidential aspirant Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s statement that she would be his running mate.
The last day of candidacy substitution for the 2022 elections is set for Monday, Nov. 15.
How did it get to this?
For months, Sara had insisted she wanted to serve another term as Davao City mayor in the family's southern bailiwick -- the position her father held before he was elected president in 2016 -- despite leading in surveys of voter preferences for the next president.
Speculation about her plans intensified this week after she suddenly withdrew from the mayoral contest. She also quit her regional party and joined Lakas.
Sara's decision to run for vice president leaves the only son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in a strong position in the presidential race., analysts said.
Bongbong Marcos has been a front runner in voter polls, ahead of celebrity mayor Francisco Domagoso, boxing great Manny Pacquiao and incumbent Vice President Leni Robredo.
There was speculation Sara had sought to persuade Marcos Jr to slide back into the vice presidential race, as the two clans sought to form a formidable alliance.
The Marcos family stronghold stretches across the country's north and center, while the Dutertes enjoy widespread support in the south.
But Marcos Jr, who was seen walking arm-in-arm with Sara at a wedding south of Manila on Thursday, told reporters, "I will continue with my plan. I entered this race to run for president".
Political analyst Richard Heydarian told AFP: "Duterte running for the vice presidency... more or less seals Bongbong Marcos' position as the top contender, the candidate to beat in these elections."
'Ma'am please run for president'
The elder Duterte had previously said he would contest the vice presidency, before changing his mind and announcing plans to retire from politics.
But on Saturday, Duterte accompanied Go to the Comelec office. Go officially entered the presidential contest, after previously registering for the vice presidential race.
Heydarian said approval ratings for Sara and her father had slipped in recent months, with the momentum shifting "in favor of Marcos".
If she were to win the election, it would keep "a Duterte near the top and well positioned for a 2028 run," said Mark Thompson, political science professor and director of the Southeast Asia Research Centre at City University of Hong Kong.
Sara's decision sparked a mixed reaction from her fans, with some praising the move, while others expressed disappointment she would not seek the presidency.
"Ma'am please run for president, please do not abandon the legacy of your father," a supporter posted on Facebook.
Marcos Jr.'s presidential bid, meanwhile, already faces challenges.
Opponents have asked the Comelec to disqualify him from the race over previous convictions for failing to file tax returns several decades ago.
If Marcos Jr. were to win office, it would cap a remarkable political comeback since a popular uprising in 1986 toppled his father and chased the family into exile in the United States.