MANILA, Philippines (WNN) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced Saturday that he is retiring from politics and plans to run for vice president in next year’s elections, when his term ends. Those questioning such a move avoid legal battles with opponents.
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. “Following the will of the people… I will follow your will and today I announce my retirement from politics.”
The 76-year-old leader, known for his deadly anti-drugs crackdown, brutal rhetoric and unorthodox 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 abruptly announced his withdrawal from the election, after accompanying his former longtime aide, Sen Bong Go, to file his own vice presidential candidacy with the ruling party in a commission at the election center.
The Philippine president is limited by the constitution to a six-year term and opponents said they would question the legality of Duterte’s declared vice presidency before the Supreme Court if they pursued their bid.
While the last two presidents have run for lower elected positions 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 return could pave the way for his politician daughter’s possible presidency
Sarah Duterte currently serves as mayor of the city of Southern Davao, and has been prompted by many supporters in a bid to succeed her father. He has topped independent opinion polls on 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.
There was no immediate response from the president’s daughter, who has gone on medical leave for a week.
Duterte took office in 2016 and immediately launched a crackdown on illegal drugs, which has killed more than 6,000 petty suspects and alarmed 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 not to allow ICC investigators to enter the country.