MANILA, Philippines — In a surprise move, President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Saturday that he was retiring from politics, and his longtime aide, Sen. Bong Go, took his place as the administration’s vice presidential candidate in next year’s elections.
“The overwhelming sentiment of the Filipino 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 after Go submitted a certificate of candidacy (COC) for vice president.ADVERTISEMENT
“And so, in obedience to the will of the people, who after all placed me in the presidency many years ago, I now say to my countrymen, I will follow your wish, and today, I announce my retirement from politics,” the president said.His announcement, however, was met with skepticism.
House Deputy Minority Leader Carlos Isagani Zarate, a Bayan Muna party-list representative, urged Filipinos not to be hoodwinked by the president.
“In September 2015, he also announced that he was retiring from politics; yet he did not. Instead, the people and the country were then taken for a ride with a last-minute candidacy switched,” Zarate told reporters.
“People should no longer take this latest retirement statement seriously; it is clearly part of the Duterte clique’s dubious scheme to hoodwink the electorate once again,” he added.
Duterte said he would not run for president in 2016 but withdrew his candidacy for reelection as Davao City mayor and joined the presidential race as a last-minute substitute for Martin Diño, who was the standard-bearer of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte would now focus on seeing to the country’s recovery from the pandemic and on campaigning for his candidates.“The chief executive would spend the remainder of his term guiding the country toward post-COVID-19 recovery,” Roque said.