Duterte won't flip-flop on 'political retirement'?; Roque 'can't assure' public

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque cannot assure the public that President Duterte will not change his mind and decide to run in the 2022 elections at the last minute as he did in 2015.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (File photo/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Roque made the statement after Filipinos online expressed skepticism about Duterte's surprise announcement over the weekend that he will retire from politics and will not pursue his vice-presidential bid that he had been bringing up over the past weeks.

In his first press briefing after his quarantine period, Roque was wondering why people are doubting Duterte's statement.

"Bakit naman tayo magdududa kung sinabi na ni Presidente 'yan (Why should we doubt when the President said it already)?" he said Monday, October 4.

He said the President cannot run for either president or vice president because his long-time aide Senator Bong Go already filed his certificate of candidacy for the latter position.

"Sa mga skeptics, nandiyan po ang Saligang Batas na nagsasabing walang reelection as president (To the skeptics out there, the Constitution is here telling us that there is no reelection as president)," Roque said.

"Sa tingin ko naman hindi lalabanan ni Presidente ang kanyang matalik na kaibigan at matagal na nagsilbihan sa kanya na si Senator Bong Go (I don't think the President will go against his best friend Senator Go who served him for the longest time)," he added.

However, when he was reminded of Duterte's announcement in September 2015 that he was retiring from politics but ended up running in the 2016 polls, Roque said he has no assurance anymore.

Instead, he urged the public to wait for the deadline for substitutes to candidates in the 2022 elections on November 15.

"Wala na po akong assurance na maibibigay doon sa talagang gustong magduda (I cannot give any assurance anymore to those who really want to doubt)," Roque said.

On Saturday, President Duterte made headlines for his decision to retire from politics. He cited the recent surveys where the majority of Filipinos expressed that he should not run for vice president for his decision to back out of the 2022 elections.

According to Roque, he does not think the President will change his mind since the public is also unlikely to change its perspective.

"Wala naman akong nakikitang basehan para magbago ang pulso ng bayan so wala rin pong dahilan para magbago ng isip ang Presidente (I don't see any basis for the people to change their views so I don't think there's a reason for the President to change his mind)," he said.