Duterte wishes rivals long life on his birthday

(The Philippine Star) - March 28, 2016 - 10:00am

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Presidential candidate Mayor Rodrigo Duterte wished for long life for himself as well as for his rivals as he celebrated his 71st birthday yesterday.

“May they live up to 120 years. No, I am just exaggerating, it’s a joke. May they live more years in their lives,” Duterte said before blowing the candles on a cake that Pastor Apollo Quiboloy presented him during a thanksgiving dinner in Lingayen, Pangasinan on Sunday. 

As this developed, a former justice secretary and concurrent party-list congressman has given up his re-election bid to help boost Duterte’s presidential bid.

“I want to help and give Digong all the support he needs, especially at this point where his campaign gained much ground. We have to work harder and make him win on May 9,” 1BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello III said, noting Duterte has been his friend and ally.

The thanksgiving dinner, held at a sports complex in Lingayen on the eve of his birthday, was the only event that Duterte attended since Maundy Thursday.

The Commission on Elections banned any campaign activity during the Holy Week, particularly on Good Friday. 

Bello, who had served under the administrations of former Presidents Cory Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in various capacities, has withdrawn his endorsement of Vice President Jejomar Binay, standard-bearer of the United Nationalist Alliance.

He said he was no longer the first nominee of the 1BAP, which has been renamed 1-Ahapo and identified with Binay, adding the party-list members are associated with Binay’s fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega.

“Backing Duterte is a decision that cost me my reelection bid as party-list congressman. But I know that it is a right decision,” the former justice secretary said.

Bello helped Binay’s vice presidential bid in 2010. He said he had informed him about his decision.

“With a heavy heart, I have to do it for the sake of upholding my own integrity,” he said.

Quiboloy, of the Jesus Christ the Name Above Every Name congregation, has endorsed Duterte, who has been his friend for more than three decades.

“I believe in him as a person and most especially in his leadership,” Quiboloy said as he wished the mayor a long and healthy life.

“My wish is also for a landslide win for the mayor in the May 9 elections,” he added.

Duterte spent his birthday with some private time for himself, as he has done for the past 28 years. 

“Duterte has remained the same, a very simple man with no fanfare or fuss for his birthday,” said Peter Laviña, spokesman for the Duterte campaign team.

Laviña said there was no campaign schedule for Duterte yesterday, adding the presidential aspirant will return to the campaign trail today – in Abra and Quezon.

The Davao mayor will visit Bukidnon and the town of Buluan in Sultan Kudarat in the next days. 

Duterte vowed to take his oath at Malacañang if he wins in May. He said the event would be simple and without drama.

“I will not take oath in Luneta, that’s only full of drama. I will take my oath at the Office of the President and Pastor Quiboloy will hold the Bible,” he said. 

Duterte joked he would also invite military and police generals so they won’t feel insulted or neglected – lest they stage a coup – and a few people.

No lavish party will be tendered for top officials, including ambassadors, as Duterte does not want to spend the people’s money.  – With Delon Porcalla, Eva Visperas, Alexis Romero

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