After barring gov’t execs from joining campaign, Duterte cites ‘an exception’
MANILA, Philippines–Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar was “an exception” to President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive barring Cabinet members and government officials from joining the campaign leading to the May 13 elections.
That’s according to the President himself, who explained Andanar’s presence at a campaign rally on Thursday in San Juan City, where he served as proxy for administration senatorial candidate Bong Go.
“That is why he was an exception. But the law says they can campaign. I did not allow the other members because they will be campaigning if they want to and they will be using government cars, government fuel. And I wanted to remove that kind of issue just to be fair,” Duterte told reporters in Malacañang on Friday night.
“But Andanar, he’s an ideologue,” he said. “His guidance is very important to all of the PDP-Laban members. He’s a son of one of the founding fathers of PDP-Laban. And there are only few of them left.”
The President was referring to Wencelito Andanar, Martin’s father, whom he appointed special envoy to Malaysia last year.
In a radio interview on Thursday, the younger Andanar said his presence at the rally as Go’s representative had the President’s permission.
“The former secretary (Go) asked me if I could go there, if I could make it. I said, ‘No problem,’ since [he] is a good friend. I just told Bong, ‘As long as the President knows about it,’” Andanar said.
“Secretary Bong Go told me that the President is aware of my presence in San Juan,” Andanar said, adding that he “serves at the pleasure and behest of the President,” who is also PDP-Laban chair.
“If Go told me to attend the campaign rally and it had the President’s go signal, then there’s nothing wrong with that,” he added.
The President earlier barred Cabinet members and other government officials from campaigning for any candidate in the May elections.
He also reminded the military and the police to stay neutral and not to engage in partisan politics. Mr. Duterte also reiterated previous directives against the use of government funds for the campaign of administration candidates.
Yet he also revealed his intention to campaign “in a limited capacity” for the candidates who supported him in the 2016 presidential race, saying he owed them a debt of gratitude.
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