- Rodrigo Duterte’s vice-presidential run would have been challenged on constitutional grounds by his opponents
- He said his decision not to run was in response to the public’s wishes
- The International Criminal Court is currently investigating killings by Mr Duterte’s administration after he took power
The President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, has announced he is retiring from politics, amid speculation he was clearing the way for his daughter to run to succeed him.
Mr Duterte had earlier announced plans to run for the vice-president role in the 2022 elections, but has now backed out.
He made the sudden announcement on Saturday after accompanying his former longtime aide, Senator Bong Go, who instead filed his own candidacy for the vice-presidency at a Commission on Elections centre.
Philippine presidents are limited by the constitution to a single, six-year term and opponents had said they would question the legality of Mr Duterte’s announced vice-presidential run before the Supreme Court.
He said his decision not to run was in response to the public’s wishes.
Political observers had long suspected Mr Duterte could spring a surprise, such as a presidential run by his daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, next year.
Ms Duterte-Carpio, who replaced her father as mayor of Davao, said last month she was not running for higher office next year because she and her father had agreed only one of them would run for national office in 2022.
The older Duterte’s decision not to join the race would clear her way.
Candidates have until Friday to register, but withdrawals and substitutions are allowed until November 15, leaving scope for last-minute changes of heart, like the 11th-hour entry of Mr Duterte himself for the 2016 election, which he won by a huge margin.
Mr Duterte took office in 2016 and launched a crackdown on illegal drugs that left more than 6,000 mostly petty suspects dead and alarmed Western governments and human rights groups.
The International Criminal Court is investigating the killings.
Duterte vs Pacquiao
The embattled Philippine president and boxing icon Manny Pacquiao exchanged heated words last month, when Mr Pacquiao announced his intention to run for president in 2022.
Previously former allies — and members of the same party, the PDP-Laban, albeit members of rival factions — the pair have more recently been feuding over leadership of the party.
Mr Pacquiao has accused Mr Duterte of being corrupt, saying more than 10 billion pesos ($378.9 million) in pandemic aid intended for poor families was unaccounted for, adding this was just one discovery in his planned corruption investigation.
Mr Duterte responded by challenging Mr Pacquiao to name the alleged corrupt agencies to prove that he was not merely politicking ahead of an election.
Outrage as Duterte pursued second term
The 76-year-old leader, known for his deadly anti-drugs crackdown, brash rhetoric and unorthodox political style, earlier accepted the ruling party’s nomination for him to seek the vice presidency in the May 9 elections.
The decision outraged many of his opponents, who have described him as a human rights calamity in an Asian bastion of democracy.
While two past presidents have run for lower elected positions after their terms ended in recent history, Mr Duterte was the first to consider running for the vice-presidency.
If he pursued the candidacy and won, that could elevate him back to the presidency if the elected leader dies or is incapacitated for any reason.