DAVAO CITY, Philippines – He may have paid advertisements and listening tours but Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte maintains he is not running for president.
Duterte said the Filipino people deserve more choices and he should only be considered if there are no other options.
“Pili muna kayo ng sino-sino dyan. Expand the gallery of candidates. Pag wala na kayo mapili o di tawagin niyo ako and let us talk about the presidency,” Duterte said. (Choose from whoever…If there’s no one else to choose then call me and let’s talk about the presidency.)
Duterte, who recently ranked third in the surveys, said that he would like to have the line of contenders extended, and that it should include former senator and rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson, Senators Antonio Trillanes, Francis Escudero, and Alan Peter Cayetano.
The controversial mayor explained that once the speculations about him running for president die down, voters will only have two options.
“Kasi ngayon limitado. After the smoke clears si Poe lang and Binay. Pili lang sa dalawa. I want a wider choice for the people,” Duterte said. (Because now it’s limited. After the smoke clears, it will only be Poe and Binay. The choice will be between the two. I want a wider choice for the people.)
He explained that the paid advertisements were not part of his plans. He asserted that he only did the shoot and voice-over to satisfy the nagging requests of his friends.
Duterte said these were conceptualized and funded by his friends in Manila, who are mostly Chinese, and who are dreaming of a safer country for the people, most especially businessmen like them.
“Who’s paying it? I’m not paying it. Believe me, because I don’t have the money,” Duterte said.
He said his friends are urging him to run because they see him as the leader who can fully impose law and order and who can put a stop to kidnapping activities.
Since last year, Duterte has been egged by his supporters to run for president in 2016. He is presently going around the country, and lately in Hong Kong, for his “listening tours”.
The engagements, which supposedly are part of a campaign for federalism, consistently transformed into a gathering of people and groups calling for his presidential candidacy.
Showing mastery of political doublespeak, Duterte denied he has plans to run for president in 2016, and even publicly threatened he would kill those who would continue to force him to run.
Earlier, Duterte declared he would pull out his financial support for barangay captains who started the Pilipinas 2016 Duterte Movement. This did not happen.
Duterte also said he plans to retire after his term ends in 2016, but he continues to issue “if I become president” statements during his listening tours.
Recently, the word war between the tough-talking mayor and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima escalated after New York-based group Human Rights Watch slammed the government for failing to act on a comprehensive probe into the alleged involvement of Duterte in the so-called Davao Death Squad.
Duterte explained that the death squad surfaced during the communist witch-hunt, which included street battles, torture and summary executions, launched by the ultra-right-wing group Alsa Masa.
The mayor said the death squad was the creation of the Alsa Masa and he denied he was behind it.
“But it is true that I have DDS and it stands for Davao Development System,” Duterte quipped. – Rappler.com