Less than a week before elections, Duterte maintains he has no presidential bet

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Less than a week before elections, Duterte maintains he has no presidential bet
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte inspects the train as he rides from Shaw Boulevard Station to Santolan Station following the completion ceremony of the Metro Rail Transit Line-3 rehabilitation project at the Shaw Boulevard Station in Mandaluyong City on March 22, 2022.
Presidential photo / Toto Lozano

MANILA, Philippines — Less than a week before the elections, President Rodrigo Duterte maintained that he is not endorsing any presidential aspirant as part of his commitment to ensure clean and honest polls.

Duterte said remaining neutral in the presidential race would erase suspicions that he is pushing for something while enforcing laws.

"Towards this attaining the clean and honest election, the reason why I am not supporting any candidate, by inference or implied or direct, I have none," the president said during a pre-recorded public address aired Tuesday.

"I will repeat, you better disabuse your minds about getting into guesses and assumptions. There is none. I have no candidate for president now until December, so you will realize that we do not have, and even the Cabinet," he added.

Duterte said he has also requested members of the cabinet to remain neutral in the elections.

"I am not prohibiting them but I requested the cabinet at the start of - our cabinet meetings, I said if possible, you should also remain neutral. If you have a candidate, just keep it to yourself and vote," Duterte said.

"But let us avoid endorsing any candidates so that there will be no second-guesses or implications that we are supporting this candidate or that candidate," he added.

Duterte clarified that while he attended some political sorties, he did not raise the hands of candidates he does not know.

Duterte is the chairman of the PDP-Laban faction composed of his political allies. The president of the faction is a Cabinet member, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi. Another Cabinet member, Cabinet Secretary Melvin Matibag, is the secretary-general of the party.

The PDP-Laban Cusi wing is supporting the candidacy of presidential aspirant Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., a former senator and the son and namesake of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos. Duterte, however, has distanced himself from the endorsement. Late last year, Duterte described the younger Marcos as "spoiled" and a "weak leader" with "baggage."

Last month, the PDP-Laban Cusi faction announced that it is planning to hold joint campaign rallies with the Marcos-led UniTeam alliance. Party officials claimed that there is a chance that Duterte would join the rallies but Malacañang has not confirmed this.

Honest polls guaranteed

In the same public address, Duterte ordered state agencies and government forces to ensure that the May 9 elections would be honest.

"We will have an orderly, clean and honest election. I urge the government to be conscious of this because everybody would be working towards this end. I would emphasize that the military and the police focus on this event because we said we want an honest election," the president said.

"As President, I guarantee...that we will do everything to ensure that the election is free from violence and that people are not intimidated in any way to exercise their right to vote and to choose whoever," he added.



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