Duterte names Teodoro, Villar his 2 top senatorial bets

President Rodrigo Duterte has announced former defense secretary Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro and former public works secretary Mark Villar are his top two candidates whose circles he will shade in his ballot in the May 9 elections.

During the President’s Chatroom aired on state-run PTV-4 on Wednesday night, Duterte interviewed the two senatorial candidates separately, describing Gibo as his “number one” bet and Villar as his “number two” bet.

Duterte expressed confidence that if elected to the Senate, Teodoro, a pilot and the 1989 first placer in the bar exams, would be one of the “best” senators who would push for legislative measures aimed at bringing development to the country.

“I will show everyone that I will vote for you and I will place your name on top of the list because you are first to do many things,” he told Teodoro, who was defense secretary in the Arroyo administration and ran for president in 2010.

He said Villar would be his second candidate, noting that he already promised to make Teodoro his first choice.

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Duterte said he could not imagine what his administration would be like “without Mark Villar there at the helm of DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways).”

“So you’re right, you worked hard and for me, I will place you in number two because I already made a promise to my number one and you are both imbued with a sense of urgency to really improve the lives of the people,” he told Villar.

Duterte said he believed the Senate needed someone like Teodoro, who served Tarlac in the House of Representatives, who always “acts in good faith” and “knows how to address the pressing issues” in the country.

“He knows the problems of the country. He knows because he served the government,” he said.

“He could not be considered a savior, but really, he can help the country if he is there in the Senate for the people.”

He also noted that it would be a wasted opportunity if Teodoro failed to make a political comeback as senator.

Teodoro, meanwhile, vowed to prioritize legislative measures that would ensure the country’s economic recovery from the effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

He cited his plan to craft measures that would help maintain peace and order in the country, improve the education system, and protect the welfare of the overseas Filipino workers.

“And those are just a few, Mr. President, of the efforts and measures.

There are other measures I would also introduce some other time,” Teodoro said.

Despite initial “misgivings” about Villar because of his age, Duterte said he had “no regrets” about appointing him to his Cabinet.

He said Villar had “very good credentials,” but also “earned the reputation” of being an efficient government worker.

“Now, I do not regret that I appointed you as one of my Cabinet members,” Duterte said.

Villar was Duterte’s youngest Cabinet member. He was only 38 years old when he was appointed as DPWH secretary in 2016.

If elected as senator, Villar said his main platform would focus on continuing Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build” initiative.

He vowed to amend laws to further fast-track the implementation of infrastructure development in the country and provide higher wages and benefits to construction workers.

“If I will be elected by our countrymen, I will push for additional benefits and use what I learned from being Cabinet secretary to craft laws that will give additional benefits and of course to push the Build, Build, Build program to even greater heights iyong (in the) future administrations,” he said.

Under Villar’s leadership, the “Build, Build, Build” program generated 6.5 million jobs since it began in 2016.

Villar is the son of real estate magnate and former Senate President Manny Villar and Senator Cynthia Villar.

Duterte is endorsing 17 senatorial candidates and his daughter, vice presidential aspirant, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, under the UniTeam of presidential candidate former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the pre-election surveys runaway front runner.

He also openly campaigned against reelectionist Senator Richard Gordon.

The Senate blue ribbon committee chair had earned Duterte’s ire over the recent senate investigations of the government’s allegedly irregular contracts with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp. to provide medical supplies at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Duterte said he had decided not to endorse any presidential candidate to avoid speculation that he would use public funds to campaign for his preferred successor.

Meanwhile, the President reiterated his call to remove old-timers in the Senate who have supposedly done nothing.

“Many senators have not been doing anything for a long time. From time to time, they would talk when there is an issue. That is what I dislike about senators now. Those old-timers, replace them,” he said.

He reminded voters to select political bets who have the heart to serve, noting that many candidates tend to forget about the nation and people once elected.

“Some only have ambition and win but do nothing for the six or three years they are elected. There are many of them. Why don’t you just pick people whom you know or have been introduced to you?” he said.

Duterte said the candidates he was endorsing possessed qualities that made them deserving to be elected into office.

“I will not pick corrupt candidates or candidates who have a bad attitude or are arrogant). All of them are really subdued and humble,” he added.

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