MANILA - The camp of Senator Grace Poe on Sunday welcomed the presidential bid of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for 2016, despite his view that the lawmaker is not a "true blue Filipino."
Poe's spokesperson Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian said that while they oppose Duterte's view on her citizenship, they believe that the entry of the mayor into the presidential race will strengthen the country's democracy.
"Though we are sadden[ed] and do not agree with the position of Mayor Duterte on Sen. Poe's citizenship and the status of foundlings, his decision to seek the presidency will make our democracy stronger and more vibrant," Gatchalian said in a statement.
""The more choices the people have, the better. Clearly, his entry to the presidential race will raise the discourse on issues this coming elections," he added.
Duterte on Saturday said he decided to join the 2016 race after the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) voted against petitions to disqualify Poe on the grounds of her citizenship.
Duterte said running for president is now "on the table" because the SET decision on Poe's case triggered him to think about his principles.
"I have nothing against Grace but if you run for the highest post in the land…it must be reserved for a true-blue Filipino,'' he said at a party in Dasmariñas, Cavite.
"If ever you make it, you will be a presumptive president by citizenship. Hindi ko matanggap 'yung ganun. What will happen when she is disqualified because she is American? Give me an Igorot, an Aeta, a plumber. Kahit ano basta Pilipino.''
WATCH: Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte finally said his candidacy for president is already "on the table," following SET's decision on Sen. Grace Poe's citizenship. #Halalan2016Read the full story here: https://bit.ly/1PGhn4A
Posted by ABS-CBNnews.com on Saturday, November 21, 2015
READ: 'Don't cheapen the presidency,' Duterte tells Poe's camp
Duterte, a lawyer and former government prosecutor, said he is not buying Poe's camp's argument that international law and convention grant foundlings the status of a natural-born citizen.
He also noted the numerous cases Poe is facing with respect to her presidential bid. He said it would be "tragic" if Poe wins the polls and the Supreme Court eventually declares she is not qualified for the post.
Aside from the SET case, Poe is also facing four disqualification cases before the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Poe's earlier said they respect the opinion of Duterte on her citizenship. [RESPECT: Poe's camp on Duterte: Everyone is entitled to his own opinion]
"In a democracy, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. We respect Mayor Duterte and we respect his opinion," Gatchalian said in a statement.