MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday rallied support for former Palace communications assistant secretary Mocha Uson's congressional bid in May's midterm polls.
Uson, a nominee of Kasosyo Party-list, comes from a poor family and the rich are her opponents, Duterte said during a distribution of cash grants in Cebu.
"Vote for Mocha. She’s really for the masses. Si Mocha. She’s Bisaya. Help her, help her. She’s one of the people who helped me," the President said in the local dialect.
Uson, who commands 5.7 million Facebook followers, is a former leader of a sexy dance group that campaigned for Duterte in the 2016 presidential race.
She resigned from the Presidential Communications Operations Office in October last year after she and blogger Drew Bolivar drew ire for a lewd federalism chant and for supposedly making fun of sign language.
Duterte acknowledged that he was criticized for failing to reprimand Uson, but said that the latter stood by him during the "dark moments" of his campaign.
The President earlier defended Uson's appointment, saying that he was paying her back for believing in him when he ran for president.
“Utang na loob ko yan sa kaniya because they offered their services for free,” Duterte said in 2017. “It’s my time to believe in them.”
Malacañang earlier said there was nothing wrong with Duterte endorsing administration allies who are running in the elections, even as it denied that the chief executive has turned his public functions into a virtual campaign trail.
-- With reports from Joyce Balancio and Joworski Alipon, ABS-CBN News