President Rodrigo Duterte during the ceremony on the return of the Balangiga bells at Balangiga, Eastern Samar on Dec. 15, 2018.
The STAR/KJ Rosales
Who's in? Duterte reveals his senatorial ticket
Alexis Romero ( - January 23, 2019 - 7:46pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte revealed Wednesday that he already has a senatorial ticket for the midterm polls as he vowed to support people who helped him during what he described as the "crucial" moments of his life. 

Duterte said his senatorial ticket is composed of people he has before and those who supported him. 

"May ticket ako. Nandyan na. Yung sumuporta, yung sinuportahan ko noon. Mahirap namang hindi ko gawin ngayon (I have a ticket. People who supported me and people I supported previously. It would be hard for me not to do it now)," the president said during a gathering of tricycle operators in Pasay City. 

He encouraged his audience to vote for four candidates namely former political affairs adviser Francis Tolentino, former presidential aide Christopher Go, former corrections and police chief Ronald dela Rosa and folk singer Freddie Aguilar. 

Duterte heaped praises on his former officials and Aguilar, whom he said was trying to convey a message to the public through his songs. 

In a chance interview after the event, Duterte said his senatorial ticket would include Sen. Sonny Angara,  Sen. Cynthia Villar, Taguig City Rep. Pia Cayetano and Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos. 

"Of course, they supported me and I have to support them. That's the right thing to do," Duterte said. 

Duterte admitted there were disagreements among his allies on the candidates who would be part of the senatorial slate. 

"We cannot agree on the exact number. But I will be supporting those who supported me during the last (election). Utang na loob 'yan e (It's a debt of gratitude)," the president said. 

Interestingly, former presidential spokesman Harry Roque was present during the event but Duterte did not explicitly endorse his senatorial bid. The president merely acknowledged his presence during the start of his speech. 

Duterte urged the public to vote wisely, saying they should support candidates who deserve to be in the government. 

"Pagdating sa gobyerno, mamili naman kayo ng tao na dapat sa gobyerno. Maawa naman ako sa bayan ninyo (When it comes to the government, choose the deserving ones. Have mercy on your country)," he said. 

The president also assured the public that government forces would remain neutral during the 2019 elections.

"The armed forces and the police will be neutral. I promise you, it will be done. They will not favor any candidate," Duterte said. 

"I am the president. I am a politician. I may campaign for those who helped me along the way during the crucial moments of my life," he added. 

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