President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday expressed his disapproval of the front-runners in a survey of the candidates for the 2019 senatorial elections.
And he pushed for administration-backed candidates who fell short in the so-called “Magic 12” in separate surveys, Duterte belittled the senatorial bets who fared well.
“I do not have to derogate others, but these survey front-runners, my goodness. We have dedicated people here, knowledgeable attorneys,” Duterte said in a speech during the birthday celebration of former political adviser Francis Tolentino in Tagaytay City.
He made the statement even as Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte would not have a hand in the 2019 midterm elections after Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison claimed the Chief Executive would interfere in the polls.
Panelo said the 79-year-old Sison’s claim was “illusory.”
“Mr. Sison’s claim that the President will interfere in the elections is likely illusory,” Panelo said in a statement.
“The President has already announced that there will be peaceful and orderly elections in May 2019, and he will stop any attempt to thwart it.”
Duterte also publicly endorsed his former Cabinet officials who are gunning for a Senate seat.
He said Tolentino, former top aide Christopher “Bong” Go, and former Bureau of Corrections chief Ronald dela Rosa were “dedicated and honest” government workers.
“These are government workers who can deliver results once you order them,” he said.
“Unlike the others... When it comes to the surveys, you can only shake your head and say, ‘Tsk.’ If that is really what you want, then you deserve the kind of government that you elect.”
But Duterte said he did not have the right to dictate to the public and judge those aspiring to help the country as lawmakers.
“Anyway, who am I to be judgmental about what they can do and what they cannot do for this country?” he said.
The President did identify names but in the latest Social Weather Stations poll, reelectionist Senators Cynthia Villar and Grace Poe topped the senatorial survey.
The survey’s result had a margin of error of +- 3 percent for national percentages, which means Villar and Poe are statistically tied for the top spot.
Three former actors, such as Lito Lapid, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr. also fared well in the survey.
Meanwhile, the Duterte-backed candidates were not able to make it to the “winning circle of” 12.
Go placed 14th to 15th, tying with Dela Rosa, while Tolentino ranked 17th.
The other senatorial bets included in SWS’ senatorial survey are Taguig Rep. Pia Cayetano and reelectionist Senators Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Aquilino Pimentel III and JV Ejercito.
Former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and Ilocos Gov. Imee Marcos also landed in the Magic 12.
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