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Duterte says possible VP bid meant to ‘scare’ critics



President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte has admitted that floating a possible vice-presidential run in the May 2022 elections was part of his strategy to taunt his critics.

In a public address aired Monday night, the President apparently reinforced his previous declaration that discussing a possible candidacy was meant for “political posturing” so he won’t be perceived as a “lame duck” just because his term is about to end.

“On my part, talks about my vice-presidential candidacy were meant to scare them,” he said, speaking partly in Filipino.

Duterte, however, said he would join the vice-presidential race only if it would benefit the nation.

“Let us see,” he said. “If it is good for the country, I would do it. If it does not contribute anything to our republic, never mind. We will just be wasting time, and you contribute to the conundrum of the moment.”

Duterte’s chief legal counsel Secretary Salvador Panelo, during the same briefing, reiterated that Duterte is allowed to pursue the second highest government post after his term.

The issue sparked debate whether it was constitutional, since the 1987 Charter provides a six-year term for a president without reelection, but it is silent on a chief executive gunning for the vice presidency.

“There is nothing in the Constitution that says the incumbent president cannot run for other positions,” Panelo said.

The Philippines’ dominant political party was bent on pushing Duterte to run for vice president, citing the need to continue the administration’s flagship programs, particularly the campaign against illegal drugs, terrorism, and communist insurgency.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, vice chairman of the ruling PDP-Laban, said on Tuesday that there was no other party member who was vying for such a post.

He also disputed the claim of a PDP-Laban official that Duterte could be removed from the party should he run for vice president.

“There was a unanimous clamor from our party members for the President to run for vice president,” Cusi said in a press conference.

Rufina Pines Arcega, chair of PDP-Laban national education committee, argued that a party resolution urging Duterte to run for vice president in 2022 under the PDP-Laban banner was “illegal” since it was approved during an “unauthorized” meeting.

The 31 May meeting was described by Sen. Manny Pacquiao, the party’s national acting president, as “invalid” since it was purportedly done behind his back.

“If he (Duterte) will do what was stated in the resolution, it will be a violation of the (party) Constitution and can be the reason for, you might say, him being removed from the party,” Arcega told ANC in an interview. She has yet to comment on Cusi’s rebuttal.