By CNN Philippines Staff
Malacañang on Monday reiterated President Rodrigo Duterte’s stand that no government fund shall be used in support of or against any candidate running in the 2019 midterm elections.
In a media briefing, spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte would be “strict” with the ban of using government resources for the campaign period.
“The President will never use any government resource in support and against candidates. Strikto siya doon (he’s very strict when it comes to that),” Panelo told reporters.
“He made the endorsement (of candidates) during the time na hindi naman (when it was still not) prohibited. Basta sinabi niya na (He just said) ‘I will not allow any government fund to be used in support of or against any particular candidate. Itaga niyo sa bato ‘yan (set that in stone),” he added.
The spokesman shrugged off detractors’ statements criticizing the President for “endorsing” select political bets early on. He added the campaign has yet to officially start.
Some of the candidates being supported by Duterte, notably former Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, often tag along with the President during his provincial trips and speaking engagements. Government critics have questioned Go’s presence in those trips and whether his travels are at government expense. Panelo, however, was not specifically asked about it.
The Commission on Elections earlier said it did not find anything wrong with Go accompanying Duterte on his trips as the former has a “freedom of movement.”
Panelo also addressed the issue of Duterte supporting different slates including his own PDP-Laban, and his daughter Sara Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago.
“I think what he’s doing is that he’s presenting certain candidates that, to his mind, would be good material for the Senate. So anybody from those lineup would be good for him,” he added.
“If he, for instance, supports the slates, then it only means that he has a deep bench of senatorial hopefuls. Regardless of who among them wins, then okay sa kaniya yun (the candidates would be okay for him.”
The official campaign period for senatorial bets and partylist groups starts Tuesday.