MANILA – After repeatedly denying seeking higher office in next year’s national elections, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte now says that he will consider joining the presidential race.
Duterte changed his mind after receiving overwhelming support from his supporters who are calling on him to run for president in the coming national elections. He clarified, however, that he is not yet declaring his candidacy as he is still weighing the pros and cons of joining the elections.
Duterte earlier said that he will not run because of his age and lack of funds, among other reasons.
“I do not want it. But if I become a viable candidate, if there is no other choice– which is also impossible to imagine because Poe and Binay are there—‘Pag wala silang mapili (If they have no choice), they can look towards Mindanao and I’ll start to think about it.,” Duterte said in an interview with ANC.
But with numerous Filipinos in the country and abroad alike rooting on him and the latest presidential preferences surveys ranking him third, Duterte will now ‘consider the suggestion of his friends and supporters,’ while waiting for God’s enlightenment.
Duterte’s supporters believe that more will be added to their number once the mayor officially declares his intention in seeking the country’s highest post.
“The reluctance of people to openly express support for Mayor Duterte is due to the fact that he has repeatedly declared he is not running. In fact, the question we always hear is: Is he really running?” Pantaleon Alvarez, one of Duterte’s avid supporters, said.
Duterte reportedly has very strong support in Mindanao, Visayas, Southern Luzon and even in Metro Manila, and having 75 to 80 percent voters’ support in Mindanao.
“Any Mindanao political leader who will campaign against Duterte in his area will face a revolt and upheaval from his own people because they see Duterte as their hope of getting the attention of the national government for the first time,” Bukidnon Governor Jose Zubiri, another Duterte supporter, said.
Should Duterte succeed President Benigno Aquino III, he already has reforms in mind like exempting low-wage earners from taxes and improving mass transportations.