Rivals welcome Rody’s entry

Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) - November 27, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential candidates welcomed yesterday Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s  formal entry into the race.

Sen. Grace Poe said that just like any other candidate, the mayor is a formidable opponent.

At a press briefing in Lipa, Batangas, Poe said Duterte should be allowed to run amid questions regarding his entry as a substitute candidate of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), which he formally did Friday with the filing of his COC.

“Let us allow him to run because the bottom line is he served his province, he has his supporters and just like what I learned from my father when he ran in 2004, we should respect the voice of the people. They are the ones with the right to decide,” Poe said.

Poe is facing multiple disqualification cases before the Commission on Elections because of questions regarding her citizenship, owing to the fact that she is a foundling.

Duterte, whose entry as a presidential candidate has generated a lot of noise, is the fifth major personality to join the race after Poe, Vice President Jejomar Binay, Manuel Roxas II and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

Binay, standard-bearer of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), is unfazed by Duterte’s entry in the 2016 polls.

Joey Salgado, Binay’s spokesman for media affairs, said the Vice President noted that Duterte’s candidacy would give the public more choices next year.

Binay earlier said he was not worried that Duterte would reduce his votes, saying it was up to the people to decide whom to vote for.

He said Duterte is very qualified to run for president. Like him, Duterte is a successful mayor and a good leader, Binay said.

The decision of Duterte to join the presidential race will benefit administration standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said yesterday.

“It will enhance the candidacy of Mar Roxas because Mayor Duterte will further divide the anti-administration votes, especially in Metro Manila and Mindanao,” he said.

He said that anti-administration voters that are expected to go for Poe or Binay would now support the Davao mayor.

Evardone, who belongs to the ruling Liberal Party, cited the Pulse Asia survey commissioned by Duterte’s supporters which showed the mayor leading in Metro Manila, a traditional opposition bailiwick.

World boxing champion and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao reaffirmed yesterday his support for Binay despite the entry of Duterte, a fellow Mindanaoan, to the presidential race.

“My support for VP is solid. I believe in his programs. We all came from poverty,” Pacquiao told reporters in General Santos City.

Pacquiao, who is running for senator in the 2016 elections under the Binay-chaired UNA, welcomed the Vice President and his entourage at the General Santos airport yesterday.

In a previous interview, Pacquiao said it was “embarrassing” for him not to support Duterte because both of them are from Mindanao.

“If Duterte runs, he is from Mindanao, it’s kind of an embarrassment if I would not support him if he runs for president,” the boxing champion said earlier.        

Poe, who has been leading the nationwide surveys on voter preferences, said that she is not taking any of her opponents for granted because they all have something to offer to the people.

“We all have our own platforms. The bottom line here is how we will run our campaign, how we will relay our platforms and if these will be accepted by the electorate,” she said.

Poe said that Duterte has his own set of supporters who are also excited about his entry into the presidential race, so she and the rest of the candidates must work even harder to get the support of the people.

“Everyone’s chances of winning or losing is affected because this is a numbers game. Whenever someone new comes in, the votes will be split further. So we have to work harder,” she said.

Evardone said the survey shows that the Davao City mayor gained six or seven percentage points, while Poe and Binay lost support compared to their numbers three months ago.

“It is clear that opposition candidates are sharing the same constituency, while Mar Roxas is the only aspirant drawing strength from the multitudes supporting President Aquino and his administration,” he said.

Another Roxas lawmaker-campaigner, Carol Jane Lopez of party-list group You Against Corruption and Poverty, said her candidate welcomes Duterte’s entry in the presidential race.

“We have our own brand and strong campaign message and platform of government, which are both anchored on the continuity of daang matuwid,” she said. With Helen Flores, Jess Diaz, Helen Flores, Non Alquitran, Jose Rodel Clapano

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