Congressman Peter Ruwel Gonzaga (2nd District, Davao de Oro) was expected any time to dump President Rodrigo Duterte to join the opposition party Reporma of his political ally former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
Reporma, chaired by Alvarez (First District, Davao del Norte), is fielding Senator Ping Lacson for president and Senator Tito Sotto for vice president in the 2022 election.
Gonzaga, still a member of the ruling PDP– Laban that Alvarez previously served as secretary general, was expected to bolt out of the ruling party chaired by Duterte, in his bid to take a crack at the Davao de Oro governorship in the 2022 election.
Gonzaga would be up against reelectionist Governor Jayvee Tyron Uy, a Duterte political ally.
Alvarez last year resigned from PDP-Laban and severed ties with Duterte, after attacking the administration of his long time political ally for alleged limp-wristed approach to the Chinese intrusion in the West Philippine Sea and the government’s war on drugs, among others. Alvarez is seeking reelection in next year’s polls.
Gonzaga has filed a Certificate of Candidacy (COC) for reelection, but has given hint his new bid for a Congress seat is not yet final sparking speculations he would take a last-minute switch, with substitution being allowed by Comelec up to November 15, and challenge Governor Uy of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HnP), the regional party of presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
A Comelec ruling says, substitution of candidates maybe allowed but the candidate giving up and the substitute should belong to the same party.
If Gonzaga would run for governor, he has to resign from PDP-Laban and join Alvarez’s Reporma. He could then be a substitute candidate of former barngay captain Franco Tito, a Reporma member who has filed a COC for governor.
Speculations say that Tito was an”advance party” to the governor’s race for Gonzaga, who already had plans to run for governor by substitution. The congressman has junked a covenant with HNP, headed by its regional chair Davao de Oro Board member Arturo Chiongkee Uy, to support a united slate in the 2022 Davao de Oro polls and has instead organized a separate slate, a mix of PDP-Laban and Reporma members, against the HNP candidates.