By Neil Arwin Mercado | Inquirer.net
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said people can choose which Ilocano leader they want in Malacañang, after noting that there are many Ilocanos in his official family.
In his speech at the inauguration of the Narvacan Farmer’s Market in Ilocos Sur, a bailiwick of the Marcos family, Duterte joked how his Cabinet has more Ilocanos now than Bisaya.
“You know in my Cabinet aapat o tatlo na lang kaming Bisaya na naiwan, puro Ilokano na kaya ibigay ko na lang itong isang buwan aalis na ako sa Malacañang. Mamili na kung sinong Ilokano na leader ang ilagay ninyo doon,” Duterte said.
“You should not be surprised, mga kabarkada ko Ilocano, dormitoryo eh. Dito naman sa pagka-Presidente ko, ‘yung mga retired, sila [National Security Adviser Hermogenes] Esperon, lahat ng military kinuha ko. Almost a third of them are in the Cabinet ko,” he added.
The only Ilocano from among presidential candidates in the May 9 elections is Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. His running mate vying for the vice presidency is incumbent Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, the eldest daughter of the President.
Previously, Duterte called Marcos Jr. a “weak leader.”
Prior to his Ilocos Sur event, Duterte in an interview said he is not inclined to endorse any candidate for president, for now, saying he prefers to “stay neutral.”
Duterte also reiterated that he will only endorse a candidate if “there would be a compelling reason.”