After announcing a plot twist to the upcoming May polls, President Duterte has opted to devote the rest of his term in guiding the country toward its recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Malacañang said.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement Saturday night, Oct. 2, just hours after Duterte swerved the nation by dropping out of the vice presidential race and announcing his retirement from politics.
In the statement, Roque reiterated Duterte’s words that the latter’s decision was due to the public’s supposed wish for him not to run for vice president.
“President Duterte has clearly spoken: He will no longer aspire for the second-highest post in the land, bowing to the will of the people, as reflected in the June 2021 Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey which showed contrary opinion for PRRD’s running for the Vice Presidency,” he said.
Roque was referring to the recent SWS survey results wherein only 39 percent of Filipinos said they would support Duterte’s vice presidential bid.
Aside from this, the results of a Pulse Asia survey conducted last month showed President Duterte in second place next to Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, who topped the pollster’s vice presidential preference survey.
According to Roque, Duerte would instead focus on leading the country’s post-pandemic recovery.
“The Chief Executive would spend the remainder of his term guiding the country towards post-COVID-19 recovery,” he said.
Meanwhile, to ensure the legacy of his programs and projects and the continuity of his reform initiatives, Roque said President Duterte would “pro-actively campaign” for his candidates and make sure that the conduct of the 2022 elections would be free, honest, peaceful, and credible.
This was not the first time President Duterte said he will retire from politics. He made the same declaration in September 2015 when he said he would retire and even drop out of the 2016 presidential race.
Duterte had declared that he will run for vice president next year to ensure the continuity of his programs and because of his love for the country.
However, the public was surprised when it was his long-time aide Senator Christopher “Bong” Go who filed a certificate of candidacy (COC) for vice president Saturday afternoon. Duterte even accompanied Go.
The President had also warned that he will not hesitate to tap the military to prevent violence during the election season.