Third District Rep. Alexie Tutor and Second District Rep. Aris Aumentado attended a dinner meeting hosted by President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang on Tuesday night, a day after key national candidate substitutions were made for the 2022 elections which shook the country’s political landscape.
Both lawmakers confirmed their presence at the event which was attended by other members of the House of Representatives.
While the dinner was supposed to be an informal gathering for Duterte to personally meet many of the House representatives for the first time since the pandemic started, Aumentado said the president also endorsed Senator Bong Go’s presidential bid during the over hour-long meeting.
“Sa akong nakita gabii mura’g simple dinner lang to kay sukad-sukad na nag pandemya wala naman g’yud nakakita si President Digong sa mga congressman so mao to gi-invite mi uban niya sagad sa mga deputy speakers sa kalian-laing partido na nagpasalamat niya,” said Aumentado.
“Dihay pitik-pitik gamay na politika na hinaot na matabangan si Senator Bong Go pero mao ra pud to,” he added.
Go, Duterte’s longtime aide, was also in attendance and was the only senator present during the event.
The first-term senator is on a collision course in the presidential race with former senator Bongbong Marcos who has been confirmed to be the running mate of vice-presidential aspirant and presidential daughter Sara Duterte.
Go’s looming battle against Marcos emerged after a major shakeup in the lineup of candidates for national posts including his withdrawal as vice-presidential candidate and filing of candidacy as president via substitution.
Sara withdrew her reelection bid as Davao City mayor and filed her candidacy for vice president while Senator Rolando Dela Rosa withdrew his presidential candidacy.
Tutor and Aumentado received invitations from Malacañang for the gathering of lawmakers but both were unaware if all members of the lower chamber were invited.
“Gi invite mi ang 18th Congress, but I don’t know if tanan congressmen ang gipaadto,” Tutor said.
There are 304 members of the House of Representatives and an estimated 100 were reportedly present during the gathering.
According to Tutor, who also confirmed that Duterte endorsed Go’s presidential bid, she has yet to decide on who she will support in the presidential race and noted that she will likely go behind whoever will be endorsed by her party, the Manny Villar-led Nacionalista Party.
“So far sa pagkakaron, ang Nacionalista Party wala pay mando gikan sa taas og kinsa ang among suportahan so karon nagpaminaw mi og unsay mga plataporma sa atoang mga presidentiable,” Tutor said.
For his part, Aumentado said he will support Sara but was unlikely to align himself with Go, a known ally of Governor Art Yap.
Aumentado who is on his last term is running against Yap for governor.
“Most likely di gyud na siya [Go] makig-uban nato kay sa last election hibaw man gyud ta na didto gyud siya sa pikas [Yap]. In fact nagkauban sila ni Jun Evasco diha man gyuy storya na niluid jud siya ni Jun Evasco kay mi kuyog siya ni Governor Yap so dako kaayog purahan na sila gyuy mag-uban anang grupoha,” said Aumentado.
Aumentado said he has yet to decide on which presidential candidate will get his support in the 2022 polls.
He added that he would likely support whoever Sara will endorse for president.
Aumentado is a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition which is fielding in the vice-presidential race Senator Tito Sotto who has been leading in pre-election surveys. (R. Tutas)