Duterte gets support of Bukidnon gov

Angelo Andrade, ABS-CBN News Northern Mindanao

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte speaks before a huge crowd during the Kaamulan Festival in Bukidnon on Friday. Angelo Andrade, ABS-CBN News Northern Mindanao

BUKIDNON - Bukidnon Governor Jose Maria Zubiri Jr. has officially endorsed the presidential candidacy of fellow Mindanaoan, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Speaking in front of a huge crowd during the annual Kaamulan Festival on Friday, the influential political leader of Bukidnon introduced Duterte as the next president of the Philippines.

According to Zubiri, his endorsement of the Davao City mayor was not a personal decision but the decision of his party, the Bukidnon Paglaum Party (BPP).

"I gave them slips and said to them, 'Who do you want to vote for Vice President and President of this country?' When they gave that, I kept it myself, brought it to my house and one by one, I opened it. It was a unanimous decision," Zubiri said.

On October 6 last year, it was reported that Zubiri, along with the 20 mayors of the province, had announced that they will support administration standard bearer Mar Roxas in the May 9, 2016 elections.

Zubiri, however, changed his tone after Duterte eventually filed his certificate of candidacy for president.

Both Zubiri and Duterte admitted that they are long-time friends. Like Duterte, Zubiri also wants a change in the government system to federalism.

In an interview with ABS-CBN in February, Zubiri denied saying that they would support Roxas' presidential bid. "I only said that I will first ask the people of Bukidnon who they personally want to be the president, vice president and the 12 senators."

The governor nonetheless said sorry to Roxas, explaining that the former interior secretary is not the choice of the people of Bukidnon.

"I would like to say sorry to Mar Roxas. Even if he's a friend of mine, he's not the choice of people of Bukidnon. I followed the choice," he said.

Zubiri, however, supports the candidacy of Roxas' running mate, Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo.

Zubiri formally announced that he will back Robredo during the Provincial Women's Summit at the Kaamulan Theater where the congresswoman was guest speaker.