It could have been a slip, except the president says it is the “truth.”
President Rodrigo Duterte, recalling his meeting two years ago with former president Benigno Aquino III on the day of the Mamasapano encounter, said he was in Zamboanga City to “campaign.”
Before the families of the 44 Special Action Force (SAF) members killed in the January 25, 2015 encounter, Duterte on Tuesday said:
“Remember, that day, I was also in Zamboanga. You (Aquino) arrived there because there was a bombing the previous day. Or was it that day? Ako, I must tell you the truth, wala ng pakornihan, I was there to campaign.”(Source: Meeting with the Families of the SAF 44, Heroes’ Hall, Malacañang, Jan. 24, 2017, watch from 37:16 – 37:43)
That Duterte was campaigning as early as January 2015 contradicts the entire narrative of his bid for the presidency.
In the run-up to the 2016 national elections, Duterte had sent mixed signals about his intent to run for president, and had even announced he would not run.
He did not file a certificate of candidacy for president during the period set by the Commission on Elections (Comelec). Instead, his party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP–Laban) fielded a last-minute candidate, Martin Diño of the Volunteers against Crime and Corruption.
It was only in late November 2015 when Duterte finally announced he would run for president.
His decision was supposedly triggered by a Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) ruling that junked a petition to disqualify Sen. Grace Poe over her citizenship issues. Poe was among the frontrunners for president then.
“Basta ako, on the table yan, I am running for the president because I am so disappointed and sad sa ruling na yan.”
In December 2015, Comelec accepted Duterte’s certificate of candidacy for president, allowing him to run as substitute for Diño.
Duterte would eventually win the presidency with more than 16 million votes, some six million votes more than his closest rival, Liberal Party bet Manuel Roxas. Poe came in third.
The many twists and turns of the Duterte presidential bid had earned it the tag “Duterte-serye,” after “teleserye,” the widely popular soap operas in the Philippines known for their unpredictable plot structures.
The series could go back as early as October 2014.
It was around that time when former president Fidel Ramos, in an earlier interview with VERA Files, said he told Duterte to run for president.
In his inaugural speech, Duterte gave credit to Ramos and thanked him for “making me president.”