Malacañang said despite recent talks about politics and the 2022 elections, President Duterte’s priority was still addressing the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after Duterte met with executives of the ruling PDP-Laban party in Malacañang on Tuesday, July 6, where he said he was “sold” to the idea of running for vice president.
In his press briefing on Thursday, July 8, Roque said the government’s priorities have not changed despite Duterte talking about politics.
“[The priority] Hasn’t changed. It’s still COVID-19 but what do you do? COVID-19 or not, elections are coming up,” he said.
“Political parties have to prepare and candidates will have to file their certificates of candidacy in the first 10 days of October,” he added.
He said the public should not mistake the recent meeting as Duterte’s new priority.
“COVID pa rin po ang problema pero nakasaad po sa ating Saligang Batas na magkakaroon ng halalan sa Mayo (The problem is still COVID-19 but the Constitution says that there will be an election in May 2022),” Roque said.
“So habang po nasa pandemya, pinag-uusapan na po ang politika pero ang ating prayoridad, COVID-19 pa rin at ang pagbangon sa pandemya (So while we are in a pandemic, we are talking about politics but our priority is still COVID-19 and how we can recover from the pandemic),” he added.
According to Roque, President Duterte was participating in the discussions because he was the chairman of PDP-Laban.
“Let’s just say that because he’s chairman of the party, he has an interest in who the party will field and president and vice president in the 2022 elections,” he said.
Malacañang has repeatedly urged the administration’s critics and the public to set aside politics and focus on addressing the pandemic.