DAVAO CITY – Mayor Rodrigo Duterte avoided meeting President Aquino, who arrived here yesterday for a series of engagements.
Duterte was not with the local officials who welcomed the President at the Davao International Airport. The mayor was reportedly in Metro Manila.
The mayor had always made it a point in the past to welcome Aquino in his previous visits to the city.
Duterte was reportedly not at the reception line as he allegedly avoided meeting the President, who is endorsing outgoing Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II as presidential candidate of the administration’s Liberal Party.
Duterte was also not among the officials who would send off the President later this afternoon when he leaves the city.
Aside from formally opening a road at the Island Garden City of Samal and addressing the pupils at the Palma Gil Elementary School here in Davao City, the President also met with at least 2,000 people in a “Gathering of Friends of PNoy” at the SMX Convention Center of SM Lanang Premier.
Duterte announced last Monday that he would not be seeking the presidency in the May 2016 elections.
He cited family reasons as well as his plans to retire from politics.
But certain sectors doubted Duterte’s pronouncements as the mayor continued with his engagements in Manila, particularly in Malabon and Navotas, while the President was in Davao.
The mayor has been invited for an interview in a television network as well as address the Rotary Club in Makati and another engagement in a province in Luzon.
Several observers said that the yellow shirt worn during the Davao press conference of Duterte’s trusted aide Christopher Go could be a sign.
Go was seen wearing a yellow shirt with Duterte markings on it during the mayor’s announcement that he will not run for president in 2016 at the Grand Menseng Hotel in Davao.
‘Duterte will still run’
Liberal Party leader and Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice yesterday said that he does not believe Duterte will retire from politics as announced last Monday.
Erice, an ally of administration standard-bearer Roxas, said Duterte’s actions belied his statement that he will no longer run for higher office.
“I think he (Duterte) will still run for president,” Erice told reporters. “If not, why does he appear to be campaigning immediately after he announced he will retire?”
He said after Duterte made his announcement, he proceeded to Malabon City in a motorcade.
“I think it’s a campaign tactic but I don’t know how,” the lawmaker said, adding Duterte’s credibility might be adversely affected by his contradictory acts.
Another lawmaker, who declined to be identified, said Duterte has been known to make such pronouncements in running for mayor of Davao City but would file his certificate of candidacy at the last minute.
Lawyer Salvador Panelo also claimed that despite his pronouncements that he is not running for president in the 2016 elections, Duterte’s political advertisements have continued airing on television and radio.
Claiming that he’s a close friend of Duterte, Panelo said the mayor also continues accepting speaking engagements in various parts of the country.
Duterte was reported to be in Cagayan province yesterday to push for federalism-type of government and would be in Makati City today. – With Non Alquitran, Paolo Romero
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