Duterte says government to stay neutral, will maintain order for May polls

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Duterte says government to stay neutral, will maintain order for May polls
In a show of confidence, President Rodrigo Duterte raised the hands of Information and Communications Secretary Gregorio Honasan III, Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission Commissioner Greco Belgica and former public works secretary Mark Villar.
Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday urged political parties to follow the law and to shun violence, warning them that the government will not allow terrorism to mar this year's elections.

Duterte assured candidates that he won't side with anybody as his administration performs its duty of maintaining law and order.

"Our appeal to our allies in our party and to the other side is for us to follow the rule of law... I will not side with anybody. We will be neutral and that goes for the entire economic and political setup...We are not here to do wrong," the president said during a pre-recorded public address.

"We will not countenance nor allow disorder nor intimidation, nor violence. We will remain neutral and we'll see to it that the true will of the people will prevail in this election," he added.

Duterte said his duty to maintain law and order was the reason why he refused to endorse a candidate for president. The PDP-Laban faction led by Duterte is supporting  the candidacy of presidential aspirant Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. but the president has distanced himself from the endorsement.

However, Duterte is supporting the vice-presidential bid of his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is running under the Marcos-led Uniteam Alliance. He is also endorsing 17 senatorial candidates and the local candidates of PDP-Laban.

"Even though I have a party, I distanced myself, except those rallies, I saw that the candidates of PDP are weak. But aside from that, over and above all of these things is the fact that we are tasked by the Constitution to see to it that the elections are in order," the President said.

Duterte said he expects politicians to honor election rules, including the limits on security aides.

"We have decided. I've communicated this with the Cabinet that the rules should really be followed. It should be the Alunan doctrine because it's better, that more than two bodyguards would be considered a private army," he added.

Duterte advised candidates who fear for their safety to contact the regional police directors and to avoid conflict, especially the use of firearms.  Politicians with unlicensed firearms would go to prison, he added.

"Remember, we in the government won't allow terrorism during the election.  We won't side with anyone... Believe it or not, this is for real, we will enforce the law to make the election peaceful," the president said.




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