President Rodrigo Duterte last week surprised numerous allies and diehard supporters when he announced he was “retiring” from politics and not seeking any elective post in next year’s elections.
He said he was spurning the endorsement of the troubled PDP-Laban party as their candidate for vice president and going back to his hometown Davao City to prerpare for his defense in the probe launched by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands into his “bloody war on drugs” that has allegedly claimed the lives of more than 12,000 suspected drug dealers, pushers as well as other innocent civilians during “official” law enforcement operations.
Appearing to walk the talk, Mr. Duterte personally accompanied Sen. Bong Go, his longtime acolyte, to the Comelec tent at the Hotel Sofitel in Pasay City in filing his certificate of candidacy as the vice presidential candidate of the PDP-Laban (Cusi wing) during the May 2022 elections – as his official replacement.
Duterte had earlier accepted the PDP-Laban’s VP endorsement to the extent of even signing the party’s certificate of nomination and acceptance before a huge crowd.
But many in the opposition are taking this announcement with a grain of salt, after all he pulled the same stunt in September 2015 when he also said he was retiring from politics, but later recanted and went on to win in the 2016 presidential derby.
“People should not take this latest retirement statement seriously,” Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate was quoted as saying, warning Filipinos not to be hoodwinked once again.
The President’s move effectively paves the way for daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio’s bid for the presidency; although she, too, has consistently denied any interest in the post as she would have to run under the PDP-Laban (Cusi wing).
Skeptics say that while Ms. Duterte, who is seeking a third term as Davao City mayor, had already filed her certificate of candidacy, there is still sufficient time and opportunity to get her to change her mind and obey the wishes of her father.
They pointed out that Sara’s filing of her COC for the Davao mayorship does not extinguish the possibility she would run for president.
Photo: Getty Images/ AFP