MANILA, Philippines — If an opposition candidate wins, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said it would not be a “repudiation” of the administration.
“It only means when opposition candidates win it is an expression of the electorate telling them that we’re putting you there to cooperate with this administration because we believe in this presidency, and not for you to destabilize it,” Panelo told reporters on Tuesday.
“I think that should be the message,” the presidential spokesperson added.
From the opposition, so far only former Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas and Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV have made it into the “Magic 12” of both the Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations’ latest surveys.
“Kaya ka ilalagay diyan para tumulong ka, di para sirain ang kanyang mga programa ng gobyerno sapagkat naniniwala kami sa kanya,” Panelo said. (That’s why you are placed there, to help, not to destroy the programs of the government. You should help because we believe in him)
Both the “Hugpong ng Pagbabago”, led by presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte; and the “Otso Diretso” opposition slate held campaign events on Tuesday morning.
HNP launched in San Fernando, Pampanga, the bailiwick of House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, while Otso Diretso held a “pre-launch” event in Caloocan City.
According to Panelo, the president has not endorsed an entire slate, but will “speak in favor” of candidates he believes in, although the spokesperson does not believe that means it is an official endorsement. This breaks away from tradition where the president would endorse an entire slate.
He has previously “spoke in favor” of his ex-Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, former Political Advisor Francis Tolentino and Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa.
Last week he named Imee Marcos specifically — who is running for senate — as one those he owes a debt of gratitude (utang ng loob) to.
On the PDP-Laban slate is Tolentino, Dela Rosa, Go, Rep. Zajid Mangudadatu (Maguindanao) and former Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.
Other candidates Duterte has “spoken in favor of” include Sens. Sonny Angara, JV Ejercito, Cynthia Villar, and former Senss Pia Cayetano and Jinggoy Estrada.
While government officials and those in civil service are banned from campaigning, the president and Cabinet members are exempted. Still, the president discouraged his Cabinet members and the military from campaigning and encouraged them to “stay neutral.”
On February 8, he said, “The cabinet members… through the law allows you to campaign like the president, I would insist that they should not get involved. Not only would they bring so many issues with them,” Duterte said in a mix of Filipino and English.
He also said “the armed forces will never side with anyone” in the campaign, and that no state resources would be used in the elections.