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Duterte not endorsing any bet ‘at this time’

Helen Flores - The Philippine Star
Duterte not endorsing any bet âat this timeâ
President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a speech during the Annual General Membership Meeting of the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association Inc. at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on Jan. 21, 2020.
King Rodriguez / Presidential Photo

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte considers all those gunning for the presidency in the May 9 elections “qualified,” but he is supporting none of them “at this time.”

In his taped Talk to the People aired Monday night, the President revealed that “almost all of the candidates” sought his endorsement.

“Almost all of the candidates, in one way or the other, communicated to me to talk, to… ask for support. I may, in the end, if I see that it would be… my advice and maybe endorsement would help if needed. But at this time, I am saying that I am not supporting anybody,” Duterte said in Filipino and English. “Unless there is a compelling reason really for me to change my mind and decide to support a candidate.”

Duterte said all presidential aspirants are qualified, but he has reservations on the “danger” of falling into what he considered a trap of communists.

“All of them are… I would say at this time, they are all qualified, whoever they are, those running now are qualified to be president,” he said.

“I find them OK except for a few misgivings about the danger of falling into the hands of… well, getting into a trap with the communists,” the President said.

“We are fighting a war that has been going on for the past 53 years and we do not want to exacerbate the situation by electing a president who would – not really – but to compromise the interest of the government,” he said.

Asked whether the PDP-Laban faction, chaired by Duterte, is also not endorsing a presidential bet following Duterte’s remark, Cabinet Secretary and acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said the party has yet to reach a consensus on the matter.

“The PDP-Laban is still talking about this, the national executive committee as well as the leaders of the PDP Laban,” Nograles said at a press briefing yesterday.

“The consensus building and decision-making of the PDP-Laban is still going,” he said.

“What the President said last night was at this time he does not support any candidate but he also said that ‘unless there is a compelling reason for me to change my mind,’” Nograles said.

Duterte’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, is running in tandem with presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

In his public address in January, the President said he would expose the characters of those seeking the presidency “in due time.”

He described one political hopeful as “too corrupt” and another as not ripe for the presidency.

His daughter and her running mate Marcos officially kicked off their campaign yesterday, promising national unity should they win in the May 9 elections.

The event was held at Philippine Arena in Bulacan, considered the world’s largest arena.

“We here in the Philippines, all of us overcame past crises because we were united. Now we need to again unite as we face this pandemic, because even the most competent and hardworking could only do so much if they are alone,” he said in Filipino.

The former senator said his tandem with Duterte-Carpio represents the collective desire of the people to really unite for the betterment of everyone and the country.

“That’s why the Duterte-Marcos tandem is a very significant symbol because if the one coming from the North and the other from the South join forces, I think the two of us can unite the entire Philippines,” Marcos pointed out.

The Philippine Arena has seating capacity for 55,000 people, but organizers said only 25,000 would be allowed to witness the event in compliance with government’s health protocols.

Bulacan Vice Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado, who is seeking the gubernatorial post under PDP-Laban Cusi wing, vowed to support the tandem of Marcos and Duterte-Carpio.

This developed as the senatorial candidates of the UniTeam also began their campaign yesterday, with House Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda firing the first salvo at the Liberman Gymnasium in Pandan, Antique, her home province.

The three-term senator vowed to launch a campaign focused on employment generation and green pandemic recovery for every Filipino family.

“The crisis of unemployment is one of the major problems that needs to be addressed urgently. My goal is to strengthen government interventions to give our people hope, especially the poorest of our poor, belonging to the most vulnerable and marginalized sectors of our country, an assurance that they are given priority and adequate assistance as we tread on the path towards sustainable and green pandemic recovery,” Legarda said.

People’s crusade

Clad in pink, supporters of Vice President Leni Robredo across the country and abroad joined yesterday the official start of her three-month presidential campaign with mini-rallies and motorcades, which her supporters call people’s crusade.

Robredo herself and her running mate Sen. Francis Pangilinan, together with members of their Senate slate, motored to Camarines Sur – her home province – where they were warmly welcomed by their supporters. Pink is Robredo’s campaign color.

Members of Robredo’s Senate slate who joined her campaign kickoff in Camarines Sur were Sen. Risa Hontiveros, former senator Antonio Trillanes IV, former Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, lawyers Chel Diokno, Alex Lacson and Sonny Matula. Detained Sen. Leila de Lima sent a representative.

“It is only timely and proper to start the hardest fight of my life here. Thank you for joining me. Thank you for your sacrifices,” the 56-year-old Robredo said in remarks before supporters in Libmanan in Camarines Sur.

Her late husband, former interior secretary Jesse Robredo. served as Naga City mayor for six terms.

“Unless we change the old and rotten kind of politics, unless we give our countrymen hope and inspiration, nothing will really change,” she said.

Also with Robredo in her first day of campaigning were her three daughters – Aika, Tricia and Jillian – during her motorcade from the town of Lupi to the municipality of Libmanan earlier in the day.

Abroad, Robredo’s supporters gathered in front of the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne, Australia, to express their support for Robredo and Pangilinan. A video posted on Facebook showed Robredo’s supporters, donned in pink clothes, chanting “Gobyernong Tapat, Angat Buhay Lahat!”

“We offer to you this campaign, this journey toward the fulfillment of our promise of prosperous and bright future. A future where this is no hunger for food, justice, love and care,” Pangilinan said in Filipino.

Raucous welcome

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno also yesterday kicked off his campaign for the presidency with a caravan around the city.

He engaged his supporters by signing framed photos and dancing with them on top of his caravan vehicle with his running mate Dr. Willie Ong and three senatorial candidates – Samira Gutoc, Jopet Sison and Carl Balita.

But social distancing proved difficult to implement in Manila, the country’s most densely populated city, his campaign organizers admittted.

Moreno himself took off his mask and some of his supporters had their masks down to their chins as they cheered their candidate on.

At a press briefing, Moreno’s campaign manager Lito Banayo said it was difficult to implement the Commission on Elections (Comelec)’s guidelines for social distancing in a “noisy” Philippine election campaign.

Moreno’s proclamation rally Tuesday night was at the Kartilya ng Katipunan beside the Manila City Hall.

Partido Reporma standard-bearer Sen. Panfilo Lacson and his running mate, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, officially launched their campaign in Imus, Cavite. They promised to hold their campaign in a “disciplined” manner.

The city was chosen as the jump-off point of their campaign being the birthplace of Lacson, a former national police chief and now on his third and final term in the Senate.

Cavite is the country’s second vote-rich province with over 2.1 million voters in 2016.

Lacson was No. 1 in the province in the 2007 and 2016 senatorial elections. This is his second attempt at the presidency, the first being in 2004.

“We will wage a very disciplined campaign, especially that it is Alert Level 2 here and there are alert levels in other parts of the country,” Lacson told a press conference three hours before the proclamation rally at the Imus Track and Field Oval and Grandstand.

“I was born here so I always kick-off my campaign here,” he said.

Sotto said the traditional campaign trail was for candidates to do a motorcade with few public meetings and stops and a major rally at night, most of the time causing disruption in traffic flow. But this campaign would obviously be different, he said.

Lacson and Sotto were unfazed by their standings in the latest surveys, saying much can change during the campaign.

“Surveys are a good guide but when Election Day approaches, you will see voters using both their heads and hearts in deciding who to vote,” Sotto said in Filipino.

The tandem is backed by three political parties in the country, namely Partido Reporma, which Lacson chairs; the Nationalist People’s Coalition chaired by Sotto; and the National Unity Party headed by their campaign manager, former Interior chief Ronaldo Puno.

Sen. Manny Pacquiao launched his campaign in his hometown General Santos City, with his running mate Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza.

Pacquiao launched his campaign with a promise of an honest and prosperous government that can provide jobs for millions of Filipinos and one that can jail the corrupt.

While he has fallen out of favor with President Duterte, with whom he locked horns over the leadership of their political party PDP-Laban, Pacquiao said he would be continuing the legacy of the President.

“I will continue the legacy of what’s good for the country, like maintaining … Build, Build, Build. That’s included in economic growth and development– – the infrastructure development. They can expect an honest government and a prosperous government that can provide jobs,” Pacquiao said in Filipino at a press conference.

Pacquiao started off the campaign with a caravan of over 500 vehicles in the afternoon.

The event was attended by only two members of the Pacquiao-Atienza senatorial slate– – Lutgardo Barbo, vice chairman of Pacquiao’s faction within PDP-Laban; and broadcaster Raffy Tulfo. – Paolo Romero, Edu Punay, Marc Jayson Cayabyab, Cecille Suerte-Felipe, Janvic Mateo, Neil Jayson Servallos, Ramon Efren Lazaro

PRESIDENT DUTERTE

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