MANILA, Philippines (AP) – Harsh-speaking Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has confirmed rumors he will run for vice president next year, in what critics say is an attempt to sidestep constitutional boundaries mandates.
Duterte, who is known for his vulgar rhetoric and crackdown on illegal drugs, which have killed thousands of mostly juvenile suspects, said in comments released early Wednesday that he would run for vice president to “continue the crusade “.
“I will be a candidate for the vice-presidency,” he said. “I’m worried about drugs, the insurgency. Well, number one is insurgency, then crime, drugs.
The Philippines has weathered the COVID-19 pandemic, with rising infections and death rates and a slow rollout of vaccination, but Duterte’s popularity has remained high.
Polls suggest that presenting Duterte on a ticket with his daughter, Sara Duterte, currently mayor of Davao City, as a presidential candidate would be a strong couple, Manila-based political analyst Richard Heydarian said.
The idea of the two running together has been discussed since 2019, he said, although advisers to Duterte have reportedly said he has suggested he might not be able to run for vice president if his daughter decided to announce a candidacy for the presidency.
“The campaign for Sara Duterte has more or less started, it seems, almost regardless of Duterte’s position,” Heydarian said. “A Duterte / Duterte tandem looks more and more like the formidable team to beat in next year’s election.
Philippine presidents are limited by the 1987 constitution to a single six-year term. At least two former presidents, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, have managed to run for lower public positions after serving as president, but not vice-president.
If Duterte continues his run, he will likely face legal challenges from the opposition, although Heydarian noted that the Supreme Court has strongly supported the president’s rulings in the past.
A new opposition coalition, 1Sambayan, whose name means nation, said Duterte’s decision was “no surprise” and simply made the coalition “more determined to unify democratic forces to meet the challenge” .
“This clearly shows a mockery of our constitution and our democratic process,” the group said. “The candidacy is both legally and morally wrong, and we hope the Filipino people realize their cheeky, selfish and selfish motives. “
Duterte, 76, had previously hinted that he might run for vice-president, and his confirmation on Wednesday came after a senior official in his PDP-Laban party said on Tuesday that the president had agreed to run as its candidate.
Duterte “has agreed to make the sacrifice and heed the clamor of the people” to run in the May 9 national election, said Karlo Nograles, executive vice president of PDP-Laban.
The Vice President is elected separately from the President under Philippine law. Those in this post could potentially be propelled to the highest office if the president dies or is incapacitated for any reason.
If elected vice president, the move would be reminiscent of the machinations of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Duterte called his “favorite hero,” to retain power despite the constitutional ban on running for a third consecutive term as president in 2008.
Instead, Dmitry Medvedev was elected president and Putin assumed the nominally junior post of prime minister from 2008 to 2012. Putin was then re-elected president in 2012, and Medvedev slipped into the role of prime minister.
“That’s not to say that, if Sara Duterte were to become president, she would essentially be the president’s proxy,” Heydarian said. “In Davao the two were in charge together (and) there were significant divergences in approaches and political differences… so we might see some iteration of that, if the tandem ever gets to the presidency. “
After announcing her intention to run, opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros warned that Duterte’s election as vice-president would mean the continuation of her authoritarian policies.
“Next year, a lot is really at stake,” she told ABS-CBN news channel.
“The president started his presidential race with a lot of drama, and it looks like he’s going to leave us the same way, trying to confuse us, and we Filipinos are still looking for a real leader.”
In June, the outgoing chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said a preliminary examination revealed reasons to believe crimes against humanity had been committed during the Duterte drug crackdown, and the “shadow” it and the discussion of possible sanctions against it are also a likely factor. in Duterte’s calculation, Heydarian said.
Still, he said, if the past is any guide, Duterte’s true intentions might not be known for some time.
“Let us not forget that President Duterte is known or notorious for his hedging strategy until the 11th hour, and even beyond the 11th hour,” Heydarian said.
Increase reported from Bangkok.