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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Saturday he was stepping down from politics and scrapping a bid from a vice president who could keep him in power for another six years.
The move comes after recent polls showed a decrease in the popularity of the 76-year-old populist leader, and indicated that most Filipinos thought that his vice-presidential election would violate the constitution.
“I am announcing today that I am retiring from politics,” Duterte said. said in comments quoted by Reuters. Duterte spoke with his closest senator Christopher “Bong” Go as Go to run for next year’s vice president of the PDP – Laban party.
“Out of 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,” Duterte said, urging voters to support Go’s candidacy. .
Duterte has been one of the most popular presidents in Philippine history since his reign in 2016, but his support waned during the coronavirus pandemic.
A poll published this week shows that support for him and his daughter Sara Duterte, the mayor of the family’s hometown, who according to many Filipinos is believed to be able to launch a presidential bid.
A Pulse Asia poll published Wednesday shows that Duterte falls in second place, behind Senate President Vincente Sotto as the most popular potential candidate for vice president. In the same survey, Ms Duterte is the most popular candidate for the top post, but her support has dropped from 28 to 24 percent.
Philippine constitution prevents presidents from seeking a second term, but analysts say stay on as the number two for his daughter or another ally could protect Mr Duterte from future legal consequences at a time when the International Criminal Court is investigating murders in his campaign against drugs.
“I think he reads the writing on the wall, and the writing on the wall says he’s a liability if he drives himself,” said Richard Heydarian, a political analyst. “He thought he was a resident for the vice presidency — but there is a clear forerunner, and it is Senate President Tito Sotto who has a huge lead over him.
Manila Pacquiao, the boxer and mayor of Manila, Francisco “Isko” Moreno, is one of the candidates who have submitted their candidacies for the presidency. The Philippines also speculated that Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the son of the late dictator and a political ally of the Dutertes, could enter the race. Marcos was endorsed by the political party of KBL of his late father.
The deadline for the submission of candidates is October 8, but parties can replace a candidate who dies, withdraws or is disqualified by the country’s electoral commission until mid-November.