BULACAN (UPDATED) - If former Sen. Manny Villar runs for president in 2022, he has the support of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The President revealed this Thursday during the proclamation rally of the ruling party PDP-Laban in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.
"Sabi ko sa kaniya, kung magtakbo ka, sa iyo ako," he said.
Duterte said Villar and his wife, Cynthia, were instrumental in his bid for the presidency in 2016.
"Sabi ni Speaker (Manny), pati ni ma’am (Cynthia), 'Rody, tumakbo ka. Baka makatulong ka pa sa bayan,'" he recalled.
The President said he had doubts of running for the highest elective position because of the amount of money needed.
"Nag-dinner kami... Nagdala siya ng pera sa bag. Sabi niya, 'Pang-umpisa mo lang kung gusto mo lang tumakbo. 'Pag hindi, iyo na ‘yan.'," he said.
During the 11th Congress when Duterte was a congressman, he said Villar, who was then the House Speaker, helped him in the lower House.
"One of the factors kung bakit ako pumayag, si Speaker. Kaya kung may presidente na suportahan ko, si Speaker," he said.
Duterte also praised Cynthia, who is seeking reelection in the upcoming midterm elections.
"Kailangan natin siya because she’s just like a mother to the nation. She keeps everything in order," he said.
In a statement Saturday, Cynthia thanked Duterte for "his trust and confidence."
"Manny and I think 2022 is so far away and we are just focusing our efforts in reelecting me as senator in 2019," she said.
Villar ran for president in 2010, but lost to former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III. He placed third behind former President and now Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada.
According to the book "Ambition, Destiny, Victory: Stories from a Presidential Election" by Miriam Grace Go and Chay Hofileña, Villar ran an expensive campaign - spending an estimated P1.4 billion on print and broadcast ads for the whole of 2009. He also secured the endorsements of Manny Pacquiao, Willie Revillame and comedy king Dolphy, and his "Dagat ng Basura" campaign jingle became famous.
By January 2010, 4 months before the elections, the Nacionalista Party candidate was statistically tied with Aquino before several negative issues derailed his campaign.
Among the attacks raised against him were the "pekeng mahirap" tag, his alleged alliance with then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the C-5 road controversy, and alleged land-grabbing and stock manipulation issues. - with a report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News