President Rodrigo R. Duterte caught not a few by surprise on Saturday when he announced his retirement from politics after he steps down from office in June next year.
Duterte made the pronouncement when he accompanied Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, his former longtime aide, who filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for vice president under the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
In a speech at Sofitel Harbor Garden Tent in Pasay City, Duterte said he withdrew his vice-presidential bid in consideration of public sentiment that his intent to seek the second top post violates the Constitution.
“Now, I’d like to address myself to the entire nation. The universal sentiment of the Filipino has been reflected in the different surveys and in many forums, caucuses, and meetings to discuss what should I do in my life. The overwhelming sentiment of the Filipino is that I am not qualified and it would be a violation of the Constitution to circumvent the law, the spirit of the Constitution,” Duterte said.
He was referring to the June 23 to 26 polls conducted by the Social Weather Stations, which showed that 60 percent of 1,200 adult Filipinos believed that his vice-presidential run could violate the intention of the Constitution, “which should be amended first before he may run for office again.”
The survey result disclosed that only 39 percent chose Duterte as their vice-presidential candidate because they want “his management of the government to continue.”
Duterte expressed gratitude to the Filipino people for trusting him to lead the country for six years.
“And so, in obedience to the will of the people, who after all placed me in the presidency many years ago, I now say, sa mga kababayan ko, sundin ko ang gusto ninyo (my countrymen, I will heed your advice). And today, I announce my retirement from politics. Salamat po sa inyong lahat (Thanks to all of you),” he said.
Duterte’s move prompted Go to “take on the challenge as PDP-Laban’s vice-presidential candidate.”The President wished Go “all the best and good luck in his quest for the vice presidency.”