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‘Rody needs time to pick successor’

Duterte declared in his public event on Thursday that he respects Go’s decision, but said it had made a lot of people sad.



President Rodrigo Duterte appears to be having a hard time endorsing another presidential contender after his longtime aide, Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, backed out of the 9 May 2022 race.

Malacañang on Friday said the President needs “more time” before choosing his “anointed one” or the candidate whom he prefers to succeed him in the top government post.

“The President has options and choices he has to make, and we should give him time to make those options, to make those choices, to make those decisions,” said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, who is also acting presidential spokesperson.

“Let’s give President Duterte the leeway whether he will announce it and when he will do it,” he added.

The Palace official was responding to queries on whether the Chief Executive would endorse presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who is running in tandem with his eldest daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

Earlier this week, Duterte-Carpio appealed to allies of the administration to support her election bid with Marcos following Go’s decision to back out of the race.

Go initially filed candidacy for vice president under the PDP Laban faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, but he opted to pursue the presidency to avert a clash with Duterte-Carpio in the No. 2 post. He formalized his presidential bid under Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan party, a partner group of the PDP Laban.

He has yet to personally appear before the Commission on Elections to withdraw his candidacy for president.

Duterte declared in his public event on Thursday that he respects Go’s decision, but said it had “made a lot of people sad.”

At present, he remains mum on whether he would endorse another presidential aspirant.


Enemies or friends?

Duterte is not on good terms with leading presidential contenders, particularly with Marcos, Vice President Leni Robredo, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, Sen. Ping Lacson, and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno.

He explicitly stated in an interview last month that he would not support Marcos as he was annoyed at the latter for purportedly pressuring Duterte-Carpio to slide down to the vice-presidency despite her lead in the previous presidential surveys. The President even went as far as calling Marcos a “spoiled” and “weak” leader.

Marcos has remained courteous towards Duterte despite the latter’s tirades, but his sister, Sen. Imee Marcos, said their family was “absolutely heartbroken” over what she described as an “almost violent reaction” of the President.

“The reality is, we are absolutely heartbroken by the almost violent reaction of the President,” the senator said during a press briefing on Tuesday in her home province of Ilocos Norte.

“But we are not the enemy, that is very clear. We’ve been allies, we’ve been supporters, and it goes way back,” she added.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether the President would opt to endorse other Palace hopefuls, particularly Robredo, Pacquiao, and Moreno.

He previously hurled insults at Robredo for her criticism of government policies, as well as at Pacquiao and Moreno, for expressing critical views on him ahead of the filing of candidacies. He also publicly questioned Lacson’s honesty.

Following Go’s announcement, however, both Pacquiao and Moreno have been cordial in their tune towards the President.

Moreno had said that he was “hopeful” of receiving Duterte’s endorsement, while Pacquiao had seemingly offered himself to be the standard-bearer of the ruling PDP Laban after expressing his willingness to “unify” the political party.

The ruling PDP Laban, which supports Go’s presidential bid, is still hopeful that the lawmaker would take back his decision to pull out of next year’s elections.


Elect ‘new’ leaders

Duterte, who is joining the 2022 Senate race, meanwhile, urged the public to support new and ordinary candidates who would advance public interests as he accused incumbent lawmakers of fabricating anomalies to gain media mileage.

In his speech on Thursday, the 76-year-old President particularly criticized the Senate blue ribbon panel anew for allegedly “stretching” its probe on the administration’s pandemic purchases and for supposedly disrespecting Cabinet officials who attended the hearings.

“You have to elect new leaders,” he said. “If this is the situation, I’ll be forced to really run for senator even if ranked at 10th.”

Duterte insisted he is keeping his hands off the Senate investigation, but he stressed that the hearings supposedly restrain government officials from fulfilling their tasks related to the state’s pandemic response.

Should the President win a Senate seat in 2022, he would work in the upper chamber alongside re-electionist Sen. Richard Gordon, whom he repeatedly slammed for leading the hearings on Covid-19 purchases.

Philippine presidents are limited by the 1987 Constitution to a single, six-year term. After their terms, they may pursue other elective offices.

Duterte and other incumbent elected officials running for office are allowed to finish their respective terms. Appointed officials, on the other hand, are deemed resigned upon filing their Certificates of Candidacy.