by Jim Gomez and Joel Calupitan | The Associated Press
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Saturday that he is retiring from politics and plans to run for vice president in elections next year, when his term ends, for his politician daughter. This will pave the way for potential bidders for the top position. .
Speaking before reporters, Duterte said many Filipinos opposed his vice presidential bid in polls and in public forums.
“The overwhelming feeling of Filipinos is that I am not qualified, and that would be a violation of the Constitution,” Duterte said. “I will do whatever you want, and today I announce my retirement from politics.”
The 76-year-old leader, known for his deadly anti-drug crackdown, flamboyant rhetoric and unconventional political style, had earlier accepted the ruling party’s nomination to seek the vice-president’s post in the May 9 elections. The decision angered many of his opponents, who have described him as a human rights disaster in the Asian bastion of democracy.
Duterte announced an abrupt withdrawal from the election along with his former longtime colleague, Sen Bong Go, who filed his vice presidential candidacy under the ruling party in a commission at the election centre.
The Philippine president is limited by the constitution to a six-year term, and opponents said they would question the validity of Duterte’s declared vice-presidency before the Supreme Court if he pursued it.
While the last two presidents have run for lower elected positions and have won after their term ends in recent history, Duterte was the first to consider running for vice president. If he pursued the candidacy and won, he could be relegated to the presidency if the elected leader dies or becomes incapacitated for any reason.
Duterte’s withdrawal could pave the way for his daughter Sarah Duterte, who is currently mayor of the southern city of Davao, to run for the presidency. He has been bullied by many supporters into bidding for his father’s successor and has topped independent opinion polls as to who should lead the country next.
But when her father initially announced that she would seek the post of vice president, Sarah Duterte announced that she would not run for president, adding that she and her father agreed that the next year would only be a Duterte national. Will run for office.
Duterte announced that he was stepping down as vice-presidency, with his daughter filing her papers for re-election in the city of Davao, although there is speculation that she will eventually withdraw from her mayoral reelection bid and Will seek the presidency.
President Duterte took office in 2016 and launched an immediate crackdown on illegal drugs, killing more than 6,000 petty suspects and alarming Western governments and human rights groups. The International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into the killings, but has vowed never to cooperate with the investigation and to allow ICC investigators into the country.
Duterte was a longtime mayor, public prosecutor and legislator of the city of Davao, in a colorful political career spanning more than three decades. Following the police character of Clint Eastwood, who had little regard for the law, he would be remembered for his extra-tough approach to criminality, which earned him nicknames such as “Duarte Harry”.
When he leaves politics, he will likely be harassed by lawsuits arising out of his violent anti-crime campaign. He accepted the nomination of the ruling PDP-Laban party as its vice presidential candidate in July, citing that concern as a reason.
A US-based human rights group said Duterte would do everything in his power to support a friendly heir and use his influence in retirement to protect himself from a series of potential criminal charges.
Human Rights Watch’s Carlos Conde said, “Duarte will support a candidate who “can give him the protection he wants.”
Associated Press journalists Kiko Rosario and Aaron Favila in Manila contributed to this report.