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A TOP Palace official hinted at President Rodrigo Duterte as never saying no to a possible vice-presidential bid in next year’s elections.

According to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, the President is not yet saying no to a possible VP run, which tends to confirm an earlier statement issued by the administration party’s secretary-general Melvin Matibag.

The President’s words are clear. I don’t need to construe,” Roque said during his regular press briefing.

He is saying ayaw niya, pero hindi pa niya sinasabing hindi,” Roque added.

The palace mouthpiece said that there is no reason for the President to come up with a decision this early.

Looking back at the last quarter of 2015, Duterte did the same – saying no and allowing then-barangay chairman Martin Diño to file the certificate of candidacy for the presidency.

Diño was replaced by Duterte just before the campaign period started.

The Omnibus Election Code allows for that,” Roque said.

Malacañang has since denied attempts to keep Duterte, who is set to step down on June 30 next year, in power.

The PDP-Laban national council on May 31 adopted a resolution urging Duterte, the party’s chairman, to run for vice president in the 2022 elections and to choose his running mate for president.

However, in an interview with Pastor Apollo Quiboloy in Davao City aired on Tuesday evening, Duterte, 76, said he is not keen on running for vice president.

Earlier in the day, Matibag said the President’s statement is not an outright rejection of its call, adding that Duterte is still open to running for vice president next year.

Ang linaw naman nung sinabi niya, I will resist. Hindi naman niya sinabi I will reject,” Matibag said.

The PDP-Laban, Matibag said, perceives Duterte’s remark in a “positive way,” hopeful that the President would reconsider the option for the “best interest” of the nation.

We look at it in a positive way. For us, it meant that the President is still pondering about it. At the end of the day, he will decide what is in the best interest of our country and our people,” he added.

The PDP-Laban official reiterated that party members are “praying harder to move mountains and to move the heart of the President” to consider their call for him to seek the vice presidency.

Duterte on Tuesday night shot down the resolution, saying he is preparing to retire from public service after his term.

“That’s difficult. I will retire, but I will choose the president. And if he or she wins, they will say I will perpetuate myself in power. So, I will resist. As for me, I am ready for retirement.”

Duterte’s decision whether he would pursue the government’s second-highest post would likely be revealed in October, the deadline set by the Commission on Elections for the filing of certificates of candidacy — or even as late as December, the cutoff for the substitution period, said Roque.

“My advice to everyone is you can speculate all you want, but we’ll find out whether or not he’ll file his certificate of candidacy only in October. We’re not even sure of October, because there’s a period for substitution sometime in December,” he said in a separate interview.

We would finally know what his decision would be in December when the period for substitution would lapse,” Roque added.

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