The Philippine president is not eligible to run for top job again and is pulling out of a plan to run for vice president in next year’s election.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said he will not run for vice president in next year’s election and will retire after the end of his term.
Duterte made the surprising decision known on Saturday after accompanying his former aide, Senator Bong Go, who instead submitted his own candidacy for the vice presidency to an election committee.
“The overwhelming feeling of the Filipinos is that I am not qualified and that it would be a violation of the Constitution to circumvent the law, the spirit of the Constitution” to run for the vice presidency, Duterte said. “Today I announce my retirement from politics.
Philippine presidents are constitutionally limited to a single six-year term, and opponents had said they would question the legality of Duterte’s announced vice presidential Supreme Court proceedings.
Duterte’s move fueled speculation that he was paving the way for his daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, to succeed him.
Duterte-Carpio, who replaced her father as mayor of Davao, said last month that she would not run for senior office next year because she and her father had agreed that only one of them would run for national office by 2022.
“It allows Sara Duterte to run,” said Antonio La Vina, a professor of law and politics at Ateneo de Manila University. But La Vina said he couldn’t rule out the possibility that the firefighter might change his mind and be Go’s replacement.
Candidates have until Friday to register, but withdrawals and substitutions are allowed until November 15, leaving room for last-minute changes, such as Duterte’s 11-hour entry for the 2016 election, which he signed with a huge margin.
Duterte stated in August that he would contest the vice presidency in the next election — a move critics say was a smokescreen, motivated by fears he would face criminal charges after his departure.
Duterte ran for president in 2016 on one issue of fighting crime in the Philippines. During his campaign and later as president, he repeatedly urged 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 as of late April 2021, police and other security forces have killed at least 6,117 suspected drug dealers in their operations. But government figures quoted by the United Nations in June 2020 already showed at least 8,600 deaths.
A 2017 Philippine police report also referred to 16,355 “homicide cases under investigation” as achievements in the drug war.
In December 2016, Al Jazeera reported more than 6,000 deaths in the drug war, raising questions about the inconsistency of the government’s administrative 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 summary executions in which innocent suspects, including children, have been killed.
The dead included at least 73 children, the youngest of whom was just five months old, according to a UN investigation. Numerous people were also killed by “unknown” gunmen, who later turned out to be police officers, according to news reports. Only a few of the thousands of reported cases were prosecuted.