MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said that past administrations, including that of his predecessor Benigno Aquino III, sought his help when he was still mayor of Davao City.
Duterte, who became famous for ruling the southern Mindanao city for over two decades with an iron fist, said past presidents tried to get his help on several matters.
He said Fidel V. Ramos, who led the country from 1992 to 1998, even offered him the post of the interior secretary.
“Ramos wanted to take me in and [offered me] DILG [Department of Interior and Local Government], right after he won. So with (Gloria) Arroyo, and so with (Joseph) Estrada. Buhay pa iyan, sila,” said Duterte in a speech at an event hosted by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
Duterte said even Aquino, through his Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., also tried to recruit him.
“Pati si Nonoy (sic). Ochoa, on the day of his (Aquino's) oath taking -- Ochoa and I were talking -- and he was asking if I could help, kung makatulong ka sa amin,” he said.
“Sabi ko, ‘I’m not cut for that kind of -- hindi ako national player. I’d rather just stay here and I’m counting the years.”
Ties between Duterte and Aquino soured during the 2016 election campaign. As Duterte zoomed to the top of the surveys in the days leading up to the election, Aquino said Duterte was a threat to democracy as he pushed for the presidential bid of his party mate, Mar Roxas.
Duterte served as Arroyo’s anti-crime adviser. The former president, who was incarcerated during the Aquino administration, is now a staunch ally of Duterte in Congress.
In his speech, Duterte again recalled his triumphant rise to the presidency, winning with over 16 million votes despite having what he described as an almost non-existent political machinery.
“Had I not been able also to convince [daughter] Inday to run [for mayor], I would not be president now. Yun talaga ng totoo. Alam ng taga-Davao iyan. I was not ready to let go of Mindanao because of the problem of Mindanao,” he said, referring to his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
The long-time Davao City mayor was initially hesitant to run, with his political party PDP-Laban, forced to field a little-known party official as its standard-bearer.
The official, Martin Diño, through substitution would later give way to Duterte as PDP-Laban's standard-bearer.