Isko says open to adopting Duterte in Senate lineup

Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 06 2021 12:55 PM | Updated as of Dec 06 2021 08:09 PM

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CEBU (2nd UPDATE) — Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso said Monday he is open to adopting President Rodrigo Duterte in the 2022 senatorial slate of Aksyon Demokratiko, saying the chief executive is a "qualified candidate" for the Senate.

"I’m going to vote for him personally. I’m going to endorse him, hopefully—kung papayag siya (if he'll accept), I’ll be honored. I’ll be humbled and honored na um-Oo si Pangulong (that President) Duterte (will say yes)," Domagoso, the standard bearer of Aksyon Demokratiko for next year's elections, told reporters during his visit in Lapu-Lapu City.

"Nakuha ko na nga siyang iboto, hindi ko pa ba siya makuhang i-adopt (If I can vote for him, why couldn't I adopt him?)," he said, adding his supporters will only have to choose 8 more candidates to be elected in the upper chamber.

Domagoso’s senatorial ticket only has three candidates so far: Moro civic leader Samira Gutoc, former Quezon City Councilor Jopet Sison, and registered nurse and licensed midwife Carl Balita.

In November, Duterte filed his candidacy for senator despite earlier pronouncements he is retiring from politics after his term ends in June next year.

Asked why he was throwing his support for Duterte, Domagoso cited his many accomplishments, including the “Build, Build, Build” program.

“Bakit hindi? Hindi natin puwedeng tawaran ang kaniyang kakayanan. (Why not? We can't discount his capacity) He is a qualified candidate for the Senate," he said.

Domagoso mentioned the current administration's projects such as the Tutuban-Malolos-Clark railway and skyway.

For him, Duterte is considered an “orphan” after the chief executive's 2022 presidential bet, Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go, announced his withdrawal from the race.

“In this case kasi, bukod sa iboboto ko si President Duterte, I would love him to be part of the slate as a guest candidate simply because wala na siyang opisyal na kandidatong presidente. Nag-withdraw na si Senator Bong Go eh, kaya in line with our belief pa rin,” Domagoso said.

Go, a longtime aide of Duterte whose term as senator ends only in 2025, has yet to formally withdraw as presidential candidate at the Commission on Elections.

Domagoso had said he will not refuse an endorsement by Duterte if it happens.

Last August, Domagoso, a former actor, reacted to Duterte's tirades against an unnamed Metro Manila mayor for having a "disorganized mind" and having lewd photos circulating online.

"Imbis na busy sila sa COVID-19, natingnan nila 'yung picture ko... kaysa 'yung picture ng mga namamatay, picture ng nagkakasakit," he said then.

(Instead of being preoccupied with COVID-19, they were busy looking at my picture... They were looking at that instead of looking at the pictures of those who died from COVID-19, and those who are still sick because of the virus.)

"I'm honored but I'm not happy," he added.

In an interview posted on YouTube last Nov. 14, Duterte said he commits to back only Go, citing the latter's "honesty", as he categorically said he is not supporting the presidential bid of others.

The Manila mayor returned to vote-rich Cebu on Sunday for another listening tour. In November, he visited Moalboal, Barili, Dumanjug, Carcar City, and Talisay City.

On Monday, he attended the flag raising ceremony at the Lapu-Lapu City Hall. He also met with his volunteers and supporters.

The presidential aspirant has been dubbed by several camps as "DuterteLite" or "IskoTerte" due to alleged similarities between him and the incumbent president.

Domagoso said he would continue Duterte's controversial war on drugs, focusing on foreign drug lords and couriers.

He repeatedly denied he is a secret candidate of the administration.

Domagoso previously joined unity talks spearheaded by opposition coalition 1SAMBAYAN, which eventually endorsed Vice President Leni Robredo for the top job. 

Asked about the possible inclusion of Duterte in Domagoso's ticket, Robredo said, "Karapatan namang piliin kung sino 'yung gusto nilang makasama."

"Pero 'yung choices naman, not just for the slate, pero 'yung choices naman nating lahat, laging reflection siya ng aspirations natin. Lagi siyang reflection ng values na pinapaniwalaan natin," Robredo said in a press conference in Baguio City.

(They have a right to choose whoever they want to be with them. But choices, not just for the slate, all our choices reflect our aspirations. It's always a reflection of the values we believe in.)

Robredo said the contenders in her Senate slate, a mix of longtime allies and former political rivals, "can contribute to the goal of having a... set of policies that will redound to the benefit of the Filipino people."

Partido Lakas ng Masa presidential aspirant Leody De Guzman, for his part, said he will not be voting for Duterte.

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"Si Duterte, ipakukulong ko sa kaniyang mga kasalanan," he said.

(I will put Duterte in jail for his sins.)

De Guzman said his vote will go to progressive senatorial candidates.

"Ang iboboto ko, si Atty. Luke Espiritu, si Roy Cabonegro, si David Angelo at iba pang progresibong kandidato sa pagkasenador," he said.

(I will vote for Atty. Luke Espiritu, Roy Cabonegro, David Angelo, and other progressive candidates for senator.)

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