Not eligible to run again for the top job, the Philippine president backs down on a plan to run for vice president in next year’s election.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said that he will not run for vice president in next year’s elections and that he will retire from politics after his term ends.
Duterte announced the surprise decision on Saturday after accompanying his former aide, Senator Bong Go, who instead ran his own bid for the vice presidency at an Elections Commission center.
“The overwhelming feeling … from Filipinos is that I am unqualified and it would be a violation of the constitution to circumvent the law, the spirit of the constitution” to run for vice presidency, Duterte said. “Today I announce my retirement from politics.
Philippine presidents are limited by the constitution to a single six-year term, and opponents had said they would question the legality of Duterte’s vice-presidential candidacy before the Supreme Court.
Duterte’s move fueled speculation that he was clearing the way for his daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, to run to succeed him.
Duterte-Carpio, who replaced her father as mayor of Davao, said last month that she would not run for higher office next year because she and her father had agreed that only one of them would run for national office in 2022. .
“This allows Sara Duterte to run,” said Antonio La Viña, professor of law and politics at Ateneo de Manila University. But La Viña said it could not rule out the possibility that the activist’s leader changes his mind and is Go’s replacement.
Candidates have until Friday to register, but withdrawals and substitutions are allowed until November 15, leaving room for last-minute changes of opinion, such as Duterte’s entry at 11 a.m. for the 2016 election, which won by a wide margin.
Duterte declared in August that he would run for the vice presidency in the next election, a move that critics said was a smokescreen and was motivated by fears that he could face criminal charges after leaving office.
Duterte ran for president in 2016 on a single crime-fighting issue in the Philippines. During his campaign and later as president, he repeatedly urged the police to “kill” drug suspects.
After taking office on June 30, 2016, he immediately launched his deadly campaign described by the country’s Catholic leaders as a “reign of terror.”
The latest government data released in June shows that at the end of April 2021, police and other security forces had killed at least 6,117 suspected drug traffickers during their operations. But government figures cited by the United Nations in June 2020 already showed at least 8,600 deaths.
A Philippine police report in 2017 also referred to 16,355 “investigative homicide cases” as achievements in the war on drugs.
In December 2016, Al Jazeera reported more than 6,000 deaths in the war on drugs, raising questions about the inconsistency of the government’s record-keeping system and the possible “manipulation” of government data.
Human rights groups say the death toll could be between 27,000 and 30,000. They accuse the authorities of carrying out summary executions in which innocent suspects, including children, were killed.
Among the dead were at least 73 children, and the youngest was only five months old, according to a UN investigation. Countless people were also killed by “unknown” gunmen, who later turned out to be police officers, according to press reports. Very few of the thousands of reported cases were prosecuted.