MANILA — President Rodrigo R. Duterte does not think that he possesses any “magical” power to endorse candidates of his choice in the upcoming mid-term elections, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo was responding to analysts and observers saying that the May elections would test the President’s power to endorse his candidates.
“I don’t think the President believes in his so-called magical power to endorse,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing, noting that Duterte is simply backing candidates he feels are worthy of getting a Senate seat.
“What he’s giving the people is, ‘These are the people that I personally feel are capable of being in the Senate,’” he added.
Panelo disagreed that the failure of administration allies to win in the mid-term elections would mean voter rejection of the Duterte administration.
“I think the President will agree with me that the — even the winning of an opposition candidate doesn’t mean a repudiation of the administration,” he said.
“It only means that when opposition candidates win, it is an expression of the electorate telling them that we’re putting you there to cooperate with this administration because we believe in this presidency and not you to destabilize it,” he added.
Meanwhile, Panelo said the President will not solicit support from any religious organization because “it was not his style.”
“The President never asks help from any specific religion. What he does is he expresses himself and he tells us why he is doing this and that,” he said.
Panelo said Kingdom of Jesus Christ head, Pastor Apollo Quiboloy endorsed Duterte during his presidential campaign “because he was a friend.”
He also called on Cabinet members anew to strictly follow election laws and assured that the Duterte administration is not using public funds to endorse any candidate.
Duterte, he said, wants to have a “clean, honest, fair, credible elections.”
“The President called upon the members of the Cabinet to strictly follow the rules on the prohibition on government employees, officials not to campaign for or against any political candidate; exempting himself, because the provision says he is exempted from it,” Panelo said.
“Let me just emphasize that he will not be using government resources. In the course of his endorsement, it will be just verbal endorsement,” he added. (PNA)By Azer Parrocha