MANILA—An adviser on Wednesday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to support the bid for Malacañang of former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. because he would "protect him" from possible legal action when he steps down.
Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Jacinto Paras said it was "practical" for Duterte to endorse Marcos to shield the President from "trumped-up charges."
"I appeal to the President as a political adviser that it is about time, and probably this it the compelling reason that he shall finally endorse someone in the person of former Senator Bongbong Marcos as his candidate for the presidency," Paras said in a Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum.
"The President needs allies especially in the new administration... I certainly believe that among the candidates, Bongbong... would be the best who would protect him," he added.
The International Criminal Court in September last year authorized a full inquiry into Duterte's war on drugs. The probe was suspended in November 2021 as the court assessed "the scope and effect of the deferral request" of the Philippine government.
Duterte in February said he would not endorse any presidential candidate this May elections unless there was a "compelling reason."
But he recently mentioned that he wanted the next president to be a lawyer, who is decisive and has a good character.
Marcos, who is running in tandem with the President's daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, is not a lawyer. The Duterte patriarch earlier described Marcos as "weak leader", who is "spoiled."
Paras meanwhile dubbed Marcos as "a very loyal friend."
"The fact that his (Duterte's) beloved daughter is the vice-presidential candidate, I would certainly believe that Marcos will remain loyal to the president even when he becomes president," Paras added.
The Duterte-backed faction of the PDP-Laban endorsed Marcos' presidential bid on Tuesday.
Presidential spokesman Martin Andanar said Duterte's position was "not clear."
Pressed on what is keeping Duterte from naming his preferred successor, Andanar said the President "is not following the footsteps or the path of the tradition."
Outgoing presidents usually identify their preferred successor, who they hope will shield them from criminal charges brought by rivals as much as protect their legacy.
They rarely end up winning.
Duterte, who is constitutionally barred from seeking a second 6-year term and remains popular among many Filipinos, had chosen aide Sen. Christopher Go to replace him, but he pulled out of the contest.
— With a report from Agence France-Presse