President Rodrigo Duterte has met with presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. over the weekend but Malacañang said he is still not endorsing any presidential candidate for the May elections.
"A meeting did occur between President Duterte and (former) Sen. Marcos. That we're sure of," acting deputy palace spokesman Kris Ablan said in a March 25 public briefing.
"Whether or not this can be interpreted as an endorsement, of course, the President has not endorsed any candidate."
Ablan said a meeting was "just arranged," but there's no endorsement insofar as Malacañang is concerned.
Sen. Bong Go, whom Duterte had endorsed for the presidency before withdrawing his candidacy, confirmed the meeting between Duterte and Marcos Jr. where he was present.
"Maganda naman po ang resulta ng meeting," Go said in a Facebook post, adding that Duterte shared with Marcos Jr. his experience as president and gave him advice.
"Medyo matagal-tagal nga ‘yon at talagang ganado ‘yung Pangulo na magkuwento. I think about 80% ng discussion ay more on si Presidente po ang nagsasalita.”
In November 2021, Duterte called Marcos Jr. a "weak leader" and a "spoiled child." He also floated a blind item about a candidate from a well-known family and father who uses cocaine, that many took to be Marcos Jr.
The late dictator's son and namesake, however, said he did not feel alluded to and took a drug test to quell the issue.
Duterte and Marcos Jr.'s meeting also came days before the Alfonso Cusi-led faction of ruling party PDP-Laban endorsed Marcos Jr. for president.
But Sen. Koko Pimentel, who's leading the other faction of the party, on Twitter said that with the latest action of Cusi and "his cohorts, they have manifested that they are total strangers to PDP LABAN."
In Germany for example, a political party formed to oppose Adolf Hitler will definitely not support an Adolf Hitler Jr.
Logic lang yan. We have to be Consistent with the PDP LABAN history, struggles, deaths, and party constitution!— Koko Pimentel (@Koko_Pimentel_) March 22, 2022
PDP-Laban was formed in the '80s as an opposition coalition against the Marcos dictatorship. It's a merger of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino founded by Pimentel's father Nene Pimentel and Lakas ng Bayan led by Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr.
"Time for Comelec to dismiss the petition of these usurpers!" Pimentel said. "In Germany for example, a political party formed to oppose Adolf Hitler will definitely not support an Adolf Hitler Jr."