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Duterte not running yet but has Senate dream team, says aide

 • 20:13 PM Fri Oct 9, 2015
Lilian Mellejor/PNA
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, according to supporters, will declare his presidential bid before Oct. 16

DAVAO CITY -- The camp of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday released the initial list of senatorial candidates that will compose the mayor’s 'dream team'.Duterte, however, has been declaring not joining the presidential race. The candidates for senators in his list will get his full support when the campaign for the 2016 elections kicks-off.The list, which was released by one of Duterte’s allies, former North Cotabato Governor Emmanuel Piñol, included veteran lawmakers Serge Osmeña and Panfilo Lacson, Filipino boxing icon and Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao, Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez, Party List Representative Samuel Pagdilao, Representative Mark Villar, Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno and former Senator Miguel Zubiri.But Piñol said Duterte has yet to refer the inclusion of Zubiri to PDP Laban head Senator Aquilino Pimentel III. Zubiri.Piñol said Duterte earlier committed to support Representative Roman Romulo, the son of former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, but he reportedly has decided not to pursue his plan to run for the Senate.All of the eight senatorial candidates chosen by Duterte are either running as independent or under a party outside PDP Laban, Piñol disclosed. They will be included in Duterte's line up as guest candidates.Piñol believed that Osmeña, Lacson, Pacquiao and Zubiri are considered sure winners in the Senate contest while Moreno, Villar, Romualdez and Pagdilao are expected to perform well because of the support of the mayor.Piñol added that one of Duterte’s advisers also suggested to field just eight candidates with four of them having real chances of winning than having 12 with only two of them winning. The lean Senate slate is preferred by the Duterte camp because of financial limitations. We have no money to give to those who are running for the Senate. They will have to finance their own campaign. But they will gain a lot of votes from Duterte's die-hard supporters, Piñol said, quoting one of the advisers.According to Piñol, the names cropped up during Duterte’s late night meeting on Tuesday with his close friends and advisers. Piñol said Duterte stated at this meeting that he would only support those who believe in his advocacies against crime, corruption and drugs and his efforts to bring to the peace table the rebel groups who have been fighting government for decades.Last Monday, Duterte urged the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels to talk with the government, if ever he becomes president. Duterte made this call during the founding anniversary of Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur.He said the founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, Jose Maria Sison, had promised to return to the Philippines if ever he wins in the 2016 presidential election.Duterte wants rebels to come down and talk peace under his administration. He stressed that the 46-year-old communist insurgency has to end and he hopes to achieve that soon. (PNA)

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