Duterte Announces Retirement From Philippines Politics As Manny Pacquiao Launches Bid For Presidency
Known for his violent crackdown on drug dealers and other unorthodox policy decisions that won him both admiration and hatred, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced Saturday that he would be retiring from politics after dropping his bid for the presidency.
That Duterte is ending his political career so soon is ironic. Many western political analysts and high-handed scribes once condemned Duterte as a violent authoritarian who would shift the Philippines’ political system closer to that of Russia’s.
However, that never happened. And now, Duterte, who is constitutionally forbidden from seeking another term as president, has decided not to run as Vice President in 2022, claiming “the public” doesn’t support him potentially subverting the country’s constitution to extend his rule (but we thought he was an authoritarian?)
Duterte’s decision comes with a twist: his former top aide and now Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, who was believed to be the ruling PDP-Laban Party’s candidate to succeed Duterte as president, has instead filed paperwork to run for the vice presidential spot, now that Duterte has withdrawn his candidacy.
“Today, I announce my retirement from politics,” he said, appearing at the Commission on Elections center in Manila alongside Go, who also announced his decision to seek the VP spot instead of Duterte. “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.
There’s reason to believe that Duterte’s retirement is part of a strategy of stepping aside to allow his daughter, Sara, to seek the presidency either in this cycle, or the next.
On Saturday, Sara Duterte-Carpio filed her certificate to run again for her current role of mayor of Davao City. However, Sara has been leading recent presidential polls, even as she has maintained her focus on getting re-elected in her home city. According to Bloomberg, back in August, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte could drop his bid for vice president if Sara were to seek the top job. And Duterte-Carpio has previously said she wouldn’t seek the top job with her father on the VP ticket, so his decision to step down could open the door for his daughter, who has already won her father’s old job as mayor of Davao City.
But if that is indeed the plan for the Duterte political dynasty, there’s one major obstacle in their way: Boxing legend and Philippine politician Manny Pacquiao, the only boxer to hold titles in 8 different weight divisions, became the first to file paperwork to seek the presidency on Friday.
Ironically, Pacquiao officially announced on Wednesday that he would be retiring from boxing to focus on his bid for the presidency.
“I just heard the final bell. Boxing is over,” Pacquiao said. “This is the hardest decision I’ve ever made, but I’m at peace with it. Chase your dreams, work hard, and watch what happens.”
To the greatest fans and the greatest sport in the world, thank you! Thank you for all the wonderful memories. This is the hardest decision I’ve ever made, but I’m at peace with it. Chase your dreams, work hard, and watch what happens. Good bye boxing. https://t.co/Bde4wO82sA
— Manny Pacquiao (@MannyPacquiao) September 29, 2021
As for whether this is really the end of the road for Duterte, who has been described as the ‘Filipino Trump’ due to his brash style and law-and-order approach, it’s worth noting that this isn’t Duterte’s first “retirement” from politics. Duterte said he would retire back in 2016 before launching his successful bid for the presidency.
Candidates must register their intention to run in next year’s vote with the Commission on Elections by Oct. 8. However, the final list of presidential contenders won’t be ready until mid-November. This means other rival politicians might emerge as potential contenders during a final attempt to join the race, a strategy that would be similar to that used by Duterte.