MANILA, Feb 26 (Mabuhay) — President Rodrigo Duterte won’t endorse Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as his choice for president in the 2022 elections even if his daughter Sara is the running mate of the former senator.

In a one-on-one interview with Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Duterte was asked to clarify his position to be neutral even as the Davao City mayor was backing Marcos’ presidential bid.

“I have talked to my daughter Inday only once since months ago… We do not talk about politics except for once pero ayaw ko na lang i-discuss kasi hindi maganda. It was between father and daughter,” Duterte said.

“It was a discussion about politics pero sa amin na yun… Hanggang ngayon, wala akong masabi sa bagay na yan,” he added.

Sara earlier said they were hoping that her father would support her and presidential aspirant and former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

She said they would also respect her father’s decision, noting that he was the President after all.

Duterte also said that he would like to stay neutral on the matter.

“Ibig sabihin wala akong susuportahan na kandidato unless again having said that I said it again  there will be a compelling reason for me to go out and tell the people what it is,” he explained.

In his previous public briefing, Duterte said that he would not support any presidential candidate in Eleksyon 2022 unless he would see what he called “a compelling reason” to do so in the coming months.

He, however, revealed that before the election period all the presidential candidates sent him emissaries.

“Wala akong kinausap noong ano pa wala pang election period yung national silang lahat nagpadala ng emissary and I respectfully declined to see anybody,” Duterte said.

Endorsed senatorial bets

Duterte however endorsed senatorial candidates of a PDP-Laban faction in the May 2022 polls.

He backed the senatorial bid of presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo, saying that he is “compassionate and an excellent writer.”

“Panelo, I’ll be franked with you and our people, itong si Panelo parang tinatawag nating character the way he yung attire niya mga parang bata teenager. Pero if you can just see across makikita mo si Panelo is compassionate man. He has critical mind and he is magtulong talaga itong (willing to help) si Panelo magsabi na gawin ko yan ginagawa niya (he will do it) for anybody,” the President explained.

Meanwhile, he also praised Anti-Corruption Commissioner Greco Belgica, noting that he is “honest and dedicated” to serving the country.

“Well si Greco is very young. His advocacy is good, he is honest nakikita ko, you can see through sa tao talagang gustong magsilbi sa bayan natin (he is willing to serve the country),” he said.

Duterte said actor Robin Padilla would also play a critical role in the Senate, emphasizing that he was “a Muslim, he is a respected member of the Muslim community in the Philippines.”

The other senatorial bids nominated by the PDP-Laban faction are Information and Technology Secretary Gregorio Honasan, SAGIP party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, Anti-Corruption Commissioner Greco Belgica, broadcaster Rey Langit, Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones.

As to what happened to the PDP-Laban faction which was left with no presidential candidate, Duterte said, “Simply because wala rin kaming makita (Simple because we couldn’t find anyone).”

Senator Bong Go, a close ally of Duterte, dropped out of the presidential race, citing his family who were not in favor of him running for president.

Duterte also earlier withdrew his certificate of candidacy (COC) for senator in the 2022 elections.

The President said that he prohibited his cabinet members from campaigning, except PDP-Laban president and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

“Pinagbawalan ko talaga ang Cabinet na magcampaign, pero it’s a privilege given, pero pinagbawalan ko kayo. Except Cusi because he is the party president of a political organization so you cannot deprived him of that right. Pero sa lahat huwag na lang kayo even the Cabinet members para walang masabi,” he added. (MNS)

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