MAKE YOUR CHOICE. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte addresses a crowd in  Narvacan, Ilocos Sur on Friday (March 4, 2022). He said they may choose an Ilokano as his successor in Malacanang. (Screenshot photo)

LAOAG CITY – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who vowed to remain neutral for the May 9, 2022 national elections, on Friday told the Ilocano crowd to choose the Ilocano leader they favor.

Without mentioning presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, who is the only Ilocano candidate vying for the country's top leadership, Duterte went on to say that many Ilocanos are members of his Cabinet.

“In my Cabinet, apat o tatlo na lang kaming Bisaya, ang naiwan puro mga Ilokano na (in my Cabinet, there are only four or three of us who are Bisaya, the rest are Ilocanos,” he said. It is not the first time the President talks about Ilocanos as his close allies and considers them as “bright and handsome” in so many ways.

"Kaya ibigay ko na lang ito isang buwan aalis na ako sa Malacañan, mamili na kayo kung sinong Ilocano na lider ilagay ninyo doon (That's why I am giving this one month, I will soon be leaving Malacañang, so choose the Ilocano leader you want to stay there)," the Chief Executive said in his speech, which earned a big round of applause and cheers from the crowd in Narvacan, Ilocos Sur. 

Duterte mentioned Secretaries William Dar of Agriculture and Silvestre Bello III of Labor as among the Ilocanos in his team.

But even if his daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is married to an Ilocano from Paoay, Ilocos Norte, and is the running mate of Marcos, the President has stood firm in his decision to “stay neutral” and not to endorse any presidential candidate.

He said that if the people’s interest is at stake, then maybe he would choose a presidential bet to support in the upcoming May polls.

Duterte visited the municipality of Narvacan as he was invited by Mayor Luis “Chavit” Singson to grace the formal inauguration of a state-of-the-art Narvacan Farmers Market installed with solar panel roofing to reduce the cost of electricity and lessen carbon footprint emissions. (PNA)