Duterte tells audience in Aklan: It's okay to vote for Mar Roxas

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President Rodrigo Duterte (L) and former Interior Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II (R). (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 8) — After a volatile word war during the 2016 elections, President Rodrigo Duterte told an audience in Aklan that it is okay for them to vote for his former political rival Mar Roxas.

Roxas is seeking a Senate seat in next year's polls. His family hails from Capiz, a neighboring province of Aklan in a region that delivered solid votes for him during the 2016 presidential race he lost to Duterte.

"Alam ko si Roxas... vote for Roxas, Ilonggo eh. Iboto ninyo, walang problema 'yan," Duterte said Thursday evening in an event in Aklan's Boracay island.

[Translation: I know Roxas. Vote for Roxas, he's Ilonggo. Vote for him, he has no problem.]

READ: Ex-presidential bet Mar Roxas files candidacy for Senate return

Duterte in 2015 said he wanted to slap Roxas for the government's slow response to Typhoon Yolanda, back when Roxas was Interior Secretary. Roxas answered back, saying he would slap the then-Davao Mayor back. This exchange snowballed.

TIMELINE: The Roxas-Duterte word war

Now, Roxas is thankful for the endorsement he received from his former rival during the 2016 presidential election.

"Maraming salamat kay Pangulong Duterte kung ganoon man ang sinabi niya tungkol sa akin," Roxas said in a message sent to reporters on Friday.

[Translation: Thank you very much to President Duterte if that's what he said about me.]

"Katulad ng sinabi ko, tumatakbo ako para sa Senado hindi bilang Round 2 ng 2016, kundi para makatulong lutasin mga problemang hinaharap ng mga Pilipino. Malinaw naman sa akin: There's no reason why Filipinos should not progress. I want to go back to public service so I can help with this," he said.

[Translation: Like I said, I am running for the Senate not as a Round 2 of 2016, but to help solve problems faced by Filipinos. It's clear to me: There's no reason why Filipinos should not progress. I want to go back to public service so I can help with this.]

Duterte mentioned Roxas while he was criticizing former Philippine National Police (PNP) deputy director general Marcelo Garbo, Jr.

"Itong si Garbo, I don't know where he is, that idiot. You know Garbo was the police aide, senior aide of Roxas," Duterte said. "Pero Garbo na 'yan, naghawak ng droga sa Visayas. Iyon ang police makita mo palagi sa tabi ni Roxas doon."

[Translation: This Garbo, I don't know where he is, that idiot. You know Garbo was the police aide, senior aide of Roxas. This Garbo, he's handling drugs in Visayas. That's the police you will see near Roxas there.]

Back in 2016, Duterte named Garbo as one of the five police generals involved in the illegal drug trade, and ordered them relieved from their posts. All five denied the President's allegations.

Robredo is a happy slatemate

The Vice President took President Rodrigo Duterte's remarks well.

"Masayang balita iyan. Masayang balita na in-endorse ni Pangulong Duterte si Secretary Mar for the Senate. Affirmation iyon na very much qualified, walang duda iyong qualifications, dapat talagang tulungan," Robredo said in Capiz Friday. 

[Translation: That is good news. It's good that President Duterte endorsed Secretary Mar for the Senate. It's an affirmation that he's very much qualified.]

Robredo was Roxas' running mate in the 2016 polls.