President Rodrigo Duterte is not yet saying no to a possible vice presidential bid in the 2022 elections, his spokesperson said Thursday, echoing the statement of the ruling PDP-Laban party.
"The President's words are clear. I don’t need to construe," said presidential spokesperson Harry Roque during his regular press briefing, referring to Duterte's statement that he is resisting PDP-Laban's call for him to run for vice president.
"He is saying ayaw niya, pero hindi pa niya sinasabing hindi [He is saying he does not like it, but he is not saying no)," Roque added.
Roque, a lawyer, said there is no legal hurdle for Duterte to join the vice presidential race at the last minute, just like what he did in the 2016 elections when he filed his candidacy for president as a substitute in December 2015.
"The Omnibus Election Code allows for that," Roque said.
Roque had previously said that there is no move to perpetuate Duterte in power since he will step down from his post when his term ends on June 30, 2022.
In a meeting on May 31, the PDP-Laban national council adopted a resolution urging Duterte, the party's chairman, to run for vice president in the 2022 elections and to choose his running mate for president.
The meeting had the blessing of Duterte himself.
However, in an interview with Pastor Apollo Quiboloy in Davao City aired on Tuesday evening, Duterte, 76, said he is not keen on running for vice president.
In response, PDP-Laban, or Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan, said the President's statement is not an outright rejection of its call.
Melvin Matibag, PDP-Laban secretary-general, expressed belief that Duterte is still open to running for vice president next year.
"Ang linaw naman nung sinabi niya (His statement was clear), I will resist. Hindi naman niya sinabi (He did not say) I will reject," Matibag said Wednesday.
Duterte's running-mate in the 2016 elections, Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano, meanwhile, believes the President should not run for vice president in 2022 and instead be just an "elder statesman." —KBK/RSJ, GMA News