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President Piñol, Senator Bello? Duterte hints at Cabinet men’s possible election stints

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by: Xave Gregorio

At least two members of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet are mulling a run – either to the Senate or to the Palace as the chief executive.

Duterte himself revealed in a speech Thursday (February 1) that there is a possibility that Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III will run for senator and that Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol will run for president.

“By the way, Bebot Bello is here. He’s out Secretary of Labor. Bot. He will run for a senatorial position,” Duterte said in Bisaya during an indigenous peoples’ summit in Davao City.

“He wants an Ilonggo president, too. He might run for the presidential position because he’s just there in the province,” Duterte said of Piñol, who is an Ilonggo himself.

This is not the first time Duterte has hinted Bello’s possible Senate run. Back in December 2017, the President said he would have no problems if the Labor Secretary runs for senator.

However, Belo denied he has plans to run for the Senate in 2019, according to a Rappler report.

The two are longtime friends, with Duterte even revealing that they were “dorm mates.” In the 2016 elections, Bello left the camp of former Vice President Jejomar Binay to endorse Duterte.

However, it is unclear whether Bello will be running in the coming 2019 elections in the administration slate. Likewise, it is unclear if Piñol is Duterte’s anointed successor to Malacañang.

Bello already has experience working in the legislature, having been 1BAP Party-list’s representative in the lower house. He has served as Cabinet Secretary under former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, as Justice Secretary under former President Cory Aquino, and as Solicitor General under former President Fidel Ramos.

Piñol, on the other hand, has had several terms as governor and vice governor in Cotabato before being appointed by Duterte to his first Cabinet post.

Talks of Duterte appointees running for elections in the coming 2019 elections abound, with House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez even floating Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque and Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson as part of his proposed PDP-Laban senatorial slate.

Both Roque and Uson have denied that they have plans to run.

But Roque has been busy touring the country holding press briefings in far flung provinces, instead of the usual briefings in Malacañang. A source told Politiko earlier that transcription services for Roque’s press conferences have been halted so he would not use Palace resources to boost his 2019 senatorial bid.

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