Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila
Updated: August 25, 2021 07:10 AM GMT
President Rodrigo Duterte is under fire from critics. (Photo courtesy of Presidential Communications Office)
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has announced he has accepted the nomination of his party to run for vice president in the country’s next election in 2022, paving the way for him to cling on to power after his term ends.
Duterte’s PDP-Laban party said on Aug. 24 that the president had made the “sacrifice” to run in the next election to heed the clamor for him to do so by the Filipino people.
It also cited the need to continue Duterte’s efforts to combat terrorism, corruption and his controversial war on illegal drugs, as well as handle efforts to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Duterte needed to run to ensure the country’s Covid-19 vaccination program will be sustained in this critical stage of the pandemic so that targets are steadily achieved,” his party added.
The party was also expected to endorse Duterte’s close aide and senator, Christopher “Bong” Go, to be its presidential candidate.
Critics said it was a blatant attempt by Duterte to remain in power as Go would probably act as a puppet president or even step aside after the election.
It’s a clear mockery of our constitution and democratic process
1Sambayan, a coalition of pro-democracy forces, said the move was expected as he wants to avoid prosecution for his alleged crimes.
“It’s a clear mockery of our constitution and democratic process. Obviously, this is driven by fear of accountability both from the ICC [International Criminal Court] and from our own justice system,” the group said in a statement on Aug. 24.
It said Duterte’s candidacy is legally and morally wrong and urged Filipino voters to see through Duterte’s “brazen, selfish, and self-serving motives.”
The Philippine constitution says a president is limited to one six-year term.
Many observers say Duterte’s move contravenes the spirit of the constitution since a vice president may assume power if the president resigns or dies.
Duterte critic Father Flavie Villanueva, meanwhile, called Duterte’s move an addiction and systematic evil.
“His desire to stay in power is no surprise. It’s something expected considering how his mess, depraved ways and mass killings are catching up with him,” he said in a Facebook post.
The priest also said Duterte has been rattled by the thought of the ICC seeking his prosecution over the thousands of killings in his drug war.
“The ICC is a serious issue and it’s a matter of days before it announces a formal investigation into how he orchestrated the worst mass killings our country has ever seen,” Father Villanueva said.
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