Filipino leader Duterte announces retirement from politics
By Jim Gomez and Joeal Calupitan
The Associated Press
Manila, Philippines Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday announced that he was stepping down from politics and abandoning his plan to run for vice-president in next year’s elections at the end of his term, paving the way for his political daughter to run for the top position.
Speaking to reporters, Duterte said many Filipinos have expressed opposition to his run for vice president in polls and public forums.
“The overwhelming feeling of the Filipinos is that I am not qualified, and that would be a violation of the constitution,” Duterte said. “I will follow what you wish, and today I announce my retirement from politics.”
The 76-year-old leader, known for his murderous drug crackdown, brash rhetoric and unorthodox political style, had previously accepted the ruling party’s nomination to run for vice-president in the May 9 election. The decision outraged many of its opponents, who described it as a human rights calamity in an Asian stronghold of democracy.
Duterte announced his surprise withdrawal from the election after accompanying his longtime former aide Senator Bong Go, who registered his run for vice-presidency in place of the ruling party at an Election Commission center.
Filipino presidents are constitutionally limited to a single six-year term, and opponents have said they will question the legality of Duterte’s announced vice presidential bid in the Supreme Court if he pursues it.
While two former presidents ran for lower elected positions and won after their terms ended in recent history, Duterte was the first to consider running for vice president. If he continued his candidacy and won, it could bring him back to the presidency if the elected leader dies or is incapacitated for any reason.
Duterte’s withdrawal could pave the way for a possible presidential candidacy by his daughter Sara Duterte, currently mayor of the southern city of Davao. She was prompted by many supporters to bid to succeed her father and topped independent opinion polls on who should run the country next.
But after her father initially said he would run for vice-president, Sara Duterte announced that she would not run for president, claiming that she and her father had agreed that only one Duterte would run for office. national next year.
Shortly after Duterte announced he was stepping down from the vice presidential race, his daughter filed for re-election in Davao City, although there is still speculation that she will eventually step down. of his candidacy for re-election as mayor and running for president.
President Duterte took office in 2016 and immediately launched a crackdown on illegal drugs that left more than 6,000 dead, mostly petty suspects, and alarmed Western governments and human rights groups. The International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into the murders, but he has vowed never to cooperate with the investigation and to allow ICC investigators into the country.
Duterte was a former Davao City mayor, government attorney and lawmaker in a colorful political career that spanned more than three decades. He will be remembered by many for his extra-tough approach to crime that earned him nicknames such as “Duterte Harry,” after the police character Clint Eastwood who had little respect for the law.
When he left politics, he would likely face legal action stemming from his violent anti-crime campaign. He cited this concern in July as one of the reasons he accepted the nomination of the ruling PDP-Laban party to be its running mate.
A US-based human rights group said Duterte would do everything in his power to support a friendly successor and harness his lingering influence in retirement to protect himself from a range of potential criminal charges.
Duterte will support a candidate “who can offer him that protection,” said Carlos Conde of Human Rights Watch. “Avoiding accountability for human rights violations is Duterte’s primary concern as his presidency draws to a close. “
Associated Press reporters Kiko Rosario and Aaron Favila in Manila contributed to this report.