Philippines: Duterte Abandons Senate Bid

Dennis Jay Santos and Jeoffrey Maitem
2021.12.14
Davao, Philippines
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Philippines: Duterte Abandons Senate Bid President Rodrigo Duterte, accompanied by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, shows his certificate of withdrawal from the 2022 senatorial election, at the Commission on Elections in Manila, Dec. 14, 2021.
Handout Presidential Communications Operations Office

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday dropped his bid for election to the Senate next year, hours after his daughter, a vice presidential candidate, endorsed him to her supporters.

Duterte showed up at the Commission on Elections office shortly before 5 p.m. to file his statement of withdrawal. Hours earlier, Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, his longtime aide, officially withdrew from the 2022 presidential race, leaving their Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP)-Laban party without a candidate for the country’s top office. 

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte this afternoon filed his statement of withdrawal at the Commission on Elections and will no longer be running for senator in the May 2022 national elections,” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, Duterte’s acting spokesman, said in a statement. 

Duterte’s withdrawal would allow him to “better focus on managing our pandemic response” to sustain the economy as the country moves to reopen after extended closures caused by COVID-19, the spokesman said. 

“He likewise views this as an opportunity to concentrate on efforts to ensure transparent, impartial, orderly and peaceful elections in May,” Nograles said. 

The spokesman said Duterte, 76, plans to retire from government to spend more time with his family once his term ends next year. The Philippine constitution limits a president’s time in office to a single, six-year term.

Earlier in the day, Sen. Go made official what he had announced last month.

“I’m no longer in the presidential race for 2022,” Go told reporters. “I already spoke about my decision on Nov. 30. I was just buying time so my supporters could absorb my decision.”

The Philippines, a country of 110 million people, will hold a general election on May 9, 2022, to choose a successor to Duterte and the vice president, as well as fill 12 Senate seats, all 316 House seats and about 18,000 official positions ranging from governors to mayors and town councilors. 

Duterte had flirted with the idea of running for vice president, in what observers suggested was a backdoor attempt to control government amid a likely investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over his administration’s war on drugs, which has left thousands dead. 

Marcos-Duterte-Carpio ticket

The president dropped that plan in October when he announced that he planned to retire from politics after his term expired. He then instead endorsed Go as a vice presidential candidate while hoping that his daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, would step and run as president.

She, however, opted to run for vice president and join forces with ex-Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., a presidential candidate who is the son and namesake of the country’s late dictator. 

Duterte-Carpio apparently was not aware of her father’s plans as she endorsed him in his senate race earlier in the day.

Marcos Jr., who comes from one of the most famous political dynasties in Asia, is vying to replace Duterte, whose 2016 presidential campaign was endorsed and bankrolled by the Marcos family.  

His father, President Ferdinand E. Marcos, ruled the Philippines for two decades, including 14 years of martial law, before a popular uprising chased him into exile in 1986.

Duterte will lose presidential immunity when he steps down next year. He is facing at least two cases brought before the ICC by relatives of those who died in his drug war. 

Under his administration, police have killed about 8,000 suspected drug addicts and dealers, whose markets are primarily located in the sprawling slums of Metro Manila, according to government figures. The number could be as high as 30,000, according to human rights advocates and drug-war survivors. 

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