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DUTERTE ENDORSES ADMIN BET. President Rodrigo R. Duterte raises the hand of former Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Francis Tolentino during the latter's birthday celebration at the Tagaytay International Convention Center in Tagaytay City on January 3, 2019. (Valerie Escalera/Presidential Photo) 

MANILA -- President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday night endorsed three administration candidates anew after a survey for the senatorial race showed that they failed to make it to the top 12 list.

The recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed that Duterte's former Presidential Political Affairs Adviser Francis Tolentino ranked 17th on the survey.

Former Special Assistant to the President Christopher "Bong" Go ranked 14th to 15th, tying with former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.

Speaking before guests present at Tolentino’s birthday celebration in Tagaytay City, the President said he attended the event because he believed his former adviser possessed the qualities that make him a good senator.

“Francis, birthday niya, pumunta ako dito. Bakit? Gusto ko siyang ma-senador (Francis, it’s his birthday. I came here. Why? I want him to be senator),” Duterte said in his speech.

Duterte said he felt that people who were surveyed have made a “mistake” by not including him in the top 12 in the senatorial aspirants.

“Nagkamali lang ‘yung tao pero (People have made a mistake) I do not have to, you know, derogate others. Iyong nangunguna sa survey (But those leading in the survey). Susmaryosep,” he said.

The President praised Tolentino for being dedicated, knowledgeable, and diligently followed orders, citing how the former adviser who served as Mayon crisis manager during the volcano’s eruption in early 2018.

He stressed that he did not endorse Tolentino because he was a friend but given his “proven integrity”.

Aside from the birthday celebrator, Duterte also endorsed dela Rosa and Go, calling them “fundamentally honest” and “extraordinarily honest”, respectively.

“Si Bato, ganun lang 'yan (he’s only like that) but he is really fundamentally honest. (He) became my chief of police. Maniwala kayo (Believe me),” he said.

The Chief Executive said Go was a person he trusted enough to have allowed him to work for him as his top aide for almost 20 years.

At present, the SWS showed that Senators Cynthia Villar and Grace Poe have topped the senatorial race obtaining a voter preference of 62 percent and 60 percent, respectively.

Taguig Rep. Pia Cayetano, re-electionist Senators Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara and Nancy Binay shared the third to fifth places, obtaining 40 percent of the votes. (PNA)

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