MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte said he did not have any presidential candidate with just days left before the May 9 elections and that he would lack one even "until December."
In a taped national address aired on Tuesday, the President also urged his Cabinet members to refrain from endorsing any candidate to avoid political insinuations.
"Wala akong kandidato sa pagkapresidente ngayon hanggang Disyembre. Wala kami, even the Cabinet," said Duterte, who would step down by the end of June.
(I don't have any candidate for president now until December. We do not have one, even the Cabinet.)
"Itong Cabinet meetings natin, kung maaari lang, kayo, remain neutral na lang rin. Kung may kandidato, just keep it to yourself. Let us avoid endorsing any candidate so there will be no certain guesses or implications that we are supporting this candidate or that," he added.
(Here in our Cabinet meetings, as much as possible, just remain neutral, too. If you have a candidate, just keep it to yourself.)
The President has publicly supported several Senate candidates and his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is seeking the vice presidency.
Duterte last year dubbed his daughter's running-mate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. as a "weak leader."
But Marcos in March scored the endorsement of the PDP-Laban faction backed by Duterte and led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.
Still, Duterte said in his latest address that he and his Cabinet should be "free from the suspicion" of supporting any candidate.
"Inaasahan ng mga tao na tayo ang mag-guarantee ng peaceful election... May haka-haka lagi na ganito just because I am seen in the company them, it’s not that. As President, I have to go to where my duty mandates me to."
(The people expect us to guarantee a peaceful elections. There are always speculations just because I am seen in their company, it's not that.)
Duterte's political adviser earlier said Marcos was the best candidate who could shield him from any "trumped up charges" after stepping down from office.
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.
Last March, Duterte said he preferred to be succeeded by a lawyer. Marcos is not one.