Duterte: Skipping barangay elections 'purely political'

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, May 15, said he skipped the barangay elections for "purely political" reasons – "to erase the suspicion" from his candidate-friends on whether he voted for them. 

"Purely political. Lahat 'yung tumakbo kaibigan ko. Almost all were my supporters during the last election, and they would never believe na nagboto ako o hindi sa kanila, so tingin ko the better option is just skip the voting. Ayokong magduda sila," Duterte said in an interview at the wake of former Senate president Edgardo Angara. 

(Purely political. Everyone who ran is my friend. Almost all were my supporters during the last election, and they would never believe that I voted for them or didn't, so I think the better option is just skip the voting. I didn't want them to have doubts.)

Duterte added, "Busy ako, nagmo-monitor ako ng elections. 'Yun ang totoo." (I was busy monitoring the elections. That's the truth.)

The barangay elections on Monday, May 14, were the first under Duterte's presidency. Monday's barangay elections were also the first to be held in 5 years after several postponements. 

Duterte, the mayor of Davao City for two decades, failed to show up at his polling precinct at the Daniel R. Aguinaldo High School until it closed at 3:05 pm on Monday. (READ: No 'failure of election' so far in barangay, SK polls)

Sought for comment on Duterte's failure to vote, Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesperson James Jimenez said on Monday, "Just like any other person, voting, for the President, is a privilege, not an obligation." 

"We don't judge people who don't vote," he added.

Jimenez said that despite the Comelec's push for Filpinos to vote, the best thing he can do is to give the President "all of the information that he needs to make a decision."

"If he decides not to vote, that's his call," Jimenez said. – with reports from Michael Bueza/Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.