“He has said he thinks [former] senator Bongbong Marcos is one of the better qualified leaders to succeed him. If there’s development and he (Marcos) will win the protest and he becomes vice-president, yes. He (Duterte) will make true his word,” pahayag ni Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque kahapon sa media briefing.
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte might step down from office if former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. wins his election protest against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. clarified that the President was merely expressing his “exasperation” at pervasive corruption in government during remarks in a Malacañang dinner on Tuesday, where he said he was thinking of resigning but could not do so because Robredo is the constitutional successor.
Duterte last month called Robredo, titular leader of the opposition Liberal Party, “incompetent,” and on Tuesday said he preferred either Marcos or Sen. Francis Escudero to succeed him.
“What he actually said [on Tuesday]was the real statement of exasperation and a genuine wish to step down if there is a better, more qualified leader to take over. He said he thinks that [Marcos] is one of the better qualified leaders to succeed him, if there are developments and he will win the protest, yes, he will make true his word,” Roque told reporters.
“If [Marcos] becomes vice president, perhaps the President will make true his word that he will step down. What he is worried about is if we were to use constitutional succession, then the successor may not be qualified. And then he expressed a preference on who he thinks may be qualified,” Roque added.
Marcos is challenging the result of the 2016 vice presidential election, where he came up short by 263,473 votes against then Camarines Sur Representative Robredo.
The son and namesake of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos questioned the results in 39,221 clustered precincts before the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).
Marcos claimed that the vice presidential election was riddled with massive electoral fraud and irregularities such as pre-shading of ballots, pre-loaded Secure Digital cards, misreading of ballots, malfunctioning vote-counting machines and an “abnormally high” unaccounted votes.
Duterte is close to the Marcos family, as his father Vicente served as general services secretary during the first term of President Marcos.
Duterte however ran with Alan Peter Cayetano in the 2016 polls, while Marcos ran with the late senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.
When asked about Duterte’s preference for Marcos on Thursday, Roque quipped: “Let’s see what Alan Cayetano has to say about that!”
Leni won’t yield to Bongbong
Robredo, in a statement, said she would not yield her post to Marcos or anybody.
“We were elected [to our post]until [June] 2022. It is our obligation to do our best for the country. That is our mandate,” she said in an interview with reporters in the Bicol region.
“The country has a lot of problems. It is better for us to focus on addressing these problems rather than engage in politicking,” she added.
Earlier on Thursday, Robredo’s lawyer Romulo Macalintal said President Duterte would never be able to resign because Marcos would never be vice president.
Rep. Tomasito Villarin of Akbayan party-list slammed Roque for using the Malacañan Palace podium to influence the electoral protest.
“Such statement affirms the fact that Malacañang is moving heaven and earth to influence the decision of the PET in favor of Marcos,” Villarin claimed.
“It is unconscionable for Roque to suggest that Marcos becomes the presumptive successor while the electoral case is still being tried in the PET,” he added.
WITH LLANESCA T. PANTI
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