TAAL, Batangas -- Opposition senatorial candidate Romulo Macalintal said Tuesday he was against "thieves," not celebrities running for public office.
Former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, a former movie star who is running with the administration ticket, earlier slammed the opposition slate for criticizing their rivals who relied on star power to get elected.
"Mr. Jinggoy, hindi ko tinatawaran ang kakayanan ng mga artista. Iginagalang ko yang sila Vilma Santos, Richard Gomez, Tito Sotto, mga artista sila," Macalintal told reporters.
(Mr. Jinggoy, I am not belittling the abilities of celebrities. I respect the likes of Vilma Santos, Richard Gomez, Tito Sotto who are movie stars.)
"Ang aking sinasabi ay hindi laban sa mga artista, kung di ang aking sinasabi ay hindi karapatdapat tumakbo sa mga Senado o manungkulan sa ano mang departamento ng pamahalaan ang isang magnanakaw," he said.
(I am not speaking against celebrities. What I'm saying is that thieves have no right to run for the Senate or serve in any government department.)
Estrada and 2 other senatorial candidates - Juan Ponce Enrile and Bong Revilla, also a movie star - were charged with plunder in 2013 after they alleged pocketed millions of pesos in their discretionary funds.
Revilla was acquitted, but was instructed by the anti-graft court to return P124.5-million to national coffers. Estrada and Enrile are out on bail.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier dropped Estrada and Revilla from the list of candidates he is endorsing for the 2019 midterm elections.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio retained the 2 former action stars on the senatorial roster of her regional party, Hugpong ng Pagbabago, saying the court has yet to issue a guilty verdict.
“Politically, kahit sa ibang bansa, magkaroon lang ng kahit kaunting duda sa katapatan, karangalan ng isang nagsisilbi, ni hindi nila iniisip na tumakbo sa kahit anong halalan,” Macalintal said.
(Politically, in other countries, at the slightest doubt on the honesty and honor of a public servant, they don't even entertain the thought of running in the elections.)