Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will not run for the vice presidency in 2022. He will retire from politics at the end of his term, he announced on Saturday.
In the Philippines, a president can only serve one term of six years. Duterte’s term ends in June 2022. The 76-year-old president has indicated in recent months that he wants to become vice president. That position would grant him immunity in potential lawsuits that could be brought against him after his resignation.
The International Criminal Court has opened a preliminary investigation into Duterte for possible crimes against humanity in his ‘war on drugs’. Thousands of people have died in that battle.
Duterte himself told Philippine media that he based his decision, among other things, on polls. “The prevailing feeling among Filipinos is that I am not qualified and that it would be a violation of the Constitution to run for Vice President. Obeying the will of the people who elected me as president many years ago, I now tell my compatriots that I will follow you. Today I announce my withdrawal from politics.”
Protection through daughter
But political observers suspect Duterte is leaving politics to give his daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio, now mayor of Davao, the opportunity to run for president. Duterte-Carpio had previously said she had agreed with her father that only one of them would run for election.
If Duterte-Carpio became president, she might be able to save her father from prosecution in his own country for his ruthless fight against drug criminals. She could also refuse to cooperate in a possible investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) into the drug war in the Asian country.
The ICC in The Hague wants a full investigation into the drug war in the Philippines, because after a preliminary investigation, according to the criminal court, there is sufficient reason to believe that crimes against humanity took place during the presidency of Duterte.
Tens of thousands of civilians may have been executed without trial since he took office in 2016. Duterte himself has previously said that he will not cooperate with an investigation by the ICC. The Philippines canceled its membership in the criminal court in 2018. According to Duterte, no foreigners are needed to investigate the murders.
On Saturday, the president also immediately expressed his support for Senator Christopher Go, one of his confidants. Go had previously been nominated as a candidate for president but had declined the nomination. He registered on Saturday with the election commission as a candidate for vice president for the ruling party PDP-Laban.