Senatorial candidate Robin Padilla (Photo courtesy of PDP-Laban)

MANILA – President Rodrigo R. Duterte believes that senatorial aspirant and Muslim convert Robin Padilla is “more than just an actor”, noting that he has done so much to help the Muslim community.

During the second episode of President’s Chatroom aired on state-run PTV-4 on Sunday night, Duterte expressed admiration for Padilla’s advocacies which include creating more legislation to support the development of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

“Ang hangarin mo sa buhay maganda para sa Pilipinas. Tinulungan mo 'yung ating mga Muslim brothers and sisters at ikaw naman you were an advocate of matulungan sila (Your desire in life is what's good for the Philippines. You helped our Muslim brothers and sisters and you were advocating of helping them),” Duterte told Padilla.

He thanked Padilla for also reaching out to his fellow Muslims amid ongoing efforts to attain peace and ensure national security.

“Ikaw 'yung isa sa mga tao na provided the moderation so that it would not go out of hand. Hindi magkaroon ng giyera talagang patayan, putukan (You are one of the people who provided the moderation so that it would not go out of hand. To prevent a war that included massacre, gunfire),” he added.

Duterte described Padilla, who once played Andres Bonifacio in film, as a “crusader” because he was a “moral and upright person”.

“Ang nakikinig sa atin ngayon, kayong mga Pilipino, more than just being an actor -- huwag na, itabi na natin ‘yan -- kung may pelikula ka man, extra ano na lang 'yan (To those listening, you Filipinos, it’s more than just being an actor -- let’s set that aside -- if he has films, that’s more of an extracurricular),” he said.

Duterte said “it would be a waste” if Padilla would not be given a chance to go into public office.

He also downplayed Padilla’s conviction for illegal possession of firearms in 1994, noting that he was pardoned by President Fidel V. Ramos and released from jail in 1997.

Ramos’ conditional pardon did not restore, in full, Padilla’s civil and political rights.

“I must tell you that the crime does not involve moral turpitude. So walang kaalaman 'yan sa (So it has nothing to do with) morality. Eh hawak lang ng baril eh (It’s just holding a gun),” he said.

In November 2016, Duterte granted absolute pardon to Padilla which allows him to vote and travel abroad among others.

Should Padilla get elected as senator, Duterte urged him to “correct” the exploitation of the country’s party-list system, saying the rich use it to lobby for their interests in Congress.

“Ang talaga ‘yung mahirap ginagamit lang ang pangalan, urban poor pero ang representative nila puro bilyonaryo. Iyan talaga ang nangyari diyan eh (They’re only poor by name but their representatives are billionaires). So ako (me) I suggest that you should correct it,” he told Padilla.

Padilla’s platform

For his part, Padilla praised Duterte for giving pride to Filipinos, especially the Bangsamoro people.

He said it was only Duterte, the first president from Mindanao, who prioritized the need to correct historical injustices in parts of Mindanao.

“Binigyan niyo po talaga ng pride ang mga Bangsamoro. Tumaas po ang kanilang pagtingin sa sarili nila (You gave the Bangsamoro people pride. They now have higher self-esteem),” Padilla said.

He vowed to continue the Duterte administration’s legacies, including crushing criminality and eradicating the country’s drug problem.

“Iyon po talaga nakita ko talaga na kapag ang isang bayan ay may law and order, puwede po tayong umunlad (That is what I can see, when a country has law and order, it can prosper),” he added.

Padilla said he wanted to push for a stronger “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.

He also wanted to establish a federal-style government, a campaign promise the Duterte administration had to set aside to prioritize the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic.

“Kung aaraw-arawin ko po ‘yan na patungkol sa federalism ang akin pong sasabihin, naniniwala po ako na maiintindihan po ng mga Pilipino na lumang-luma na itong unitary form of presidential government (If we talk about federalism every day, I believe Filipinos will understand that the unitary form of presidential government is outdated),” Padilla said.

As an actor, Padilla is best known for his "bad boy" persona in films.

The senatorial aspirant has aligned himself with the UniTeam banner led by presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and vice presidential aspirant Sara Duterte. (PNA)