Duterte won't seek support for his senatorial bets from religious groups
President Rodrigo Duterte would not ask support from religious groups for his senatorial bets in the May elections, Malacanang said on Tuesday.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo noted that since Duterte was a mayor until he ran for the presidency, he never approached any particular religious sect.
This was despite the offers to him before when he was still running for a government post, he said.
"No, it's not his style," Panelo said.
In the case of Apollo Quiboloy, founder of the Davao City-based Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name, Inc., he said the religious leader endorsed Duterte during the presidential polls in 2016 because they were friends.
"Quiboloy supported him (Duterte) because he was a friend. They are personal friends," he said.
In the Philippines, it has been a habit of some politicians to seek endorsements from various religious groups, such as the Iglesia Ni Cristo, which is known for its "bloc voting."
INC claims to have millions of members worldwide.
Duterte, on the other hand, has been critical of the Catholic Church.
Campaign for the senatorial and partylist candidates kicked off on Tuesday.
Duterte, who belongs to PDP-Laban and regional political party Hugpong ng Pagbabago, did not join the campaign kick off of HNP in Pampanga.
In a speech in Maguindanao on Monday, Duterte reiterated his order to the police and military as well as the Cabinet members to be neutral during the election period.
"I said I have ordered the military, I have ordered the police (to be) neutral," he said.
While the Cabinet members during the previous administrations could campaign, Duterte said under his term, he ordered them not to join in politics.
In his case, the President said that since he himself is a "political entity" chosen by the people, "I can choose whether to campaign."
Duterte has yet to disclose a complete list of 12 senatorial candidates he would be supporting in the May polls.
He has been openly campaigning for the senatorial bid of his former close aide Christopher "Bong" Go, former Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa, former presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino and singer Freddie Aguilar. Celerina Monte/DMS