Duterte: Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla request for endorsement came too late
President Duterte said he did not endorse the candidacy of former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada and two other pro-administration senatorial aspirants because it was already “too late” when they sought his backing.
Estrada, former Sen. Bong Revilla and former TV journalist Jiggy Manicad were absent at the proclamation rally of the administration party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) on Thursday in the City of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan province, where the names of only 11 administration senatorial candidates were announced.
“They gave me the signal too late,” Mr. Duterte told reporters after the rally. “Actually, almost a year ago I was already forming the ticket. But I just played dumb. I really didn’t tell.”
‘Good track record’
In a statement, Estrada said he respected the decision of the administration party “regarding their preferred senatorial bets.”
“With or without the endorsement of the President,” he said, “I will continue to be an ally of this administration. My support to this administration is not diminished in any way.”
He said the endorsement of “our popular President” would have been helpful, but he trusted Filipinos to reelect him “based on my good track record as a public servant, long list of legislative accomplishments and genuine desire to uplift the lives of the masses.”
Estrada and Revilla were charged with graft and plunder in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
Revilla was acquitted last year but Estrada is still facing trial and is out on bail.
The President’s act of raising Estrada’s hand, the standard display of endorsing a candidate, at an event in Albay last week was intended to show “courtesy” and to avoid putting the former senator in an awkward situation, according to presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
“From what I know [of] the President’s character, he does not embarrass people, especially women. As he explained, it was just courtesy to him,” Panelo said at a press briefing on Friday.
Estrada, Revilla and Manicad, however, are included in the bloated Senate slate supported by Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP), the regional party established by the President’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
Mr. Duterte, national chair of PDP-Laban, said he respected HNP’s choice of 13 candidates.
“For my part, I had my own preferences,” the President said. “The problem is that Inday, she’s a politician and I am also. So we cannot agree on all, especially on all of the personalities there.”
PDP-Laban’s senatorial candidates are its party president, reelectionist Sen. Koko Pimentel, former presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino, former Bureau of Corrections Director General Ronald dela Rosa, Maguindanao Rep. Zajid Mangudadatu and former Special Assistant to the President Bong Go.
The ruling party’s guest candidates are reelectionist Senators Cynthia Villar, Sonny Angara and JV Ejercito, Taguig Rep. Pia Cayetano, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos and singer Freddie Aguilar.
Aguilar was included in the lineup because of Mr. Duterte’s utang na loob (debt of gratitude), according to Go.
Speaking to reporters at an HNP rally in Baguio City on Friday, Duterte said her father’s decision on Estrada was “understandable.”
“My father is close to many people and he has other candidates in mind,” she said.
Estrada joined his half-brother Ejercito, Manicad, Angara, Dela Rosa and Mangudadatu in HNP’s Baguio rally.
The President’s daughter said HNP was backing Estrada and the others “because these are the candidates who will help this administration. There’s no doubt about it.” —WITH REPORTS FROM VALERIE DAMIAN AND TONETTE OREJAS
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