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Philippines: Duterte announces retirement from politics

‘Overwhelming sentiment of the Filipinos is that I am not qualified’

Philippines Iceland Drug Killings Rodrigo Duterte | AP

Barred from running for a second term as president by the Philippines constitution, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has announced that he will be retiring from politics and will not be running for vice-president in next year’s election.

In a short speech made after his close aide Christopher “Bong” Go filed his certificate of candidacy to run for vice president, Duterte said the “overwhelming sentiment of the Filipinos is that I am not qualified”.

“I’d like to address myself to the entire nation. The universal sentiment of the Filipino has been reflected in the different surveys and in many forums and, well, caucuses and meetings to discuss what I should do in my life. The overwhelming sentiment of the Filipinos is that I am not qualified, and it would be a violation of the constitution to circumvent the law, the spirit of the Constitution,” Duterte said.

“And so in obedience to the will of the people, who after all placed me in the presidency many years ago…Today, I announce my retirement from politics,” he said.

Duterte was long considered to make a run for the VP post as a bid to remain in power. However, the planned move was deemed unconstitutional by his critics, who said they would contest any Duterte candidacy with the country’s supreme court.

Duterte’s exit does not remove his family from political life. His daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio,  presently mayor of Davao, is widely expected to run for the top post and holds a lead in most polls. She has, however, yet to confirm her candidature.

On Saturday, Duterte’s heavyweight political rival, famed boxer Manny Pacquiao, threw his hat in the ring, running for the presidential candidacy via the Cebu-based PROMDI party—a move that cemented his split from the ruling PDP-Laban. The Pulse Asia survey of 2,400 people placed Pacquiao—an eight-division world champion—fourth in the running. The poll saw Sara Duterte-Carpio lead with 20 per cent support, followed by the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos (who also yet to confirm his plan to run). In third place came Manila mayor Francisco Domagoso.

Duterte took office in 2016 and launched a crackdown on illegal drugs that left more than 6,000—mostly petty suspects—dead and alarmed Western governments and human rights groups. The International Criminal Court is investigating the killings. 

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