MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday he is "not supporting any candidate—except, of course, my daughter," Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is seeking the No. 2 job in the May elections.
One of his advisers earlier urged the President to back Duterte-Carpio's running-mate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. to shield him from possible legal action when he steps down from office.
In a speech at an evacuation center in Batangas province on Monday afternoon, Duterte said, "Ako wala na, tapos na ako."
(I am done.)
"I am not supporting any candidate—except, of course, my daughter. Ako, boboto talaga ako sa anak ko," he said.
(I will vote for my daughter.)
Duterte, who remains popular among many Filipinos, called Marcos a "weak leader" in November last year.
The President had chosen his longtime aide Sen. Christopher Go to replace him, but the lawmaker pulled out of the contest in December.
Since then, Duterte has been cryptic about who he wants to see in the presidential palace after he steps down in June.
He said in March the next leader should be a lawyer and compassionate -- raising eyebrows among observers as the description seemed to best fit his nemesis, incumbent Vice President Leni Robredo, who is a distant second behind Marcos in the polls.
Aside from Robredo, the only other lawyer among the 10 presidential aspirants is Jose Montemayor, Jr.
"Paalis na ako. I’m just, I’m winding up at lahat ‘yong nalalaman ko na magandang asal para sa maging Presidente, sinasabi ko. It is because I want to pass it on to the next generation," Duterte said in his Batangas speech.
(I am leaving. I'm just winding up and I am just sharing everything I know on the good characteristics of a President.)
Video courtesy of PCOO
A faction of Duterte's PDP-Laban party last month endorsed the presidential bid of Marcos.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, president of the faction, would not confirm if the decision meant the President also supported Marcos.
Presidential spokesman Martin Andanar said Duterte's position was "not clear".
But University of the Philippines political science professor Jean Franco said PDP-Laban's backing was "tantamount to Duterte endorsing the candidacies of Marcos and his daughter".
"It's big," she said, adding it gives "local officials the signal that they should campaign for the Marcos-Duterte ticket."
She added that it was also "surreal" that PDP-Laban, which was set up in the early 1980s in opposition to the Marcos dictatorship, was now supporting his son.
Duterte was in Batangas to inspect an evacuation, following the recent eruption of the Taal Volcano.
— With a report from Agence France-Presse