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Philippine president announces retirement from politics

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has said he will not stand for vice-president in next year’s election, and will instead retire from politics.

Mr Duterte said last month that he would run for the vice-presidency in 2022. The country’s constitution bars him from a second term as president.

But he now says he will withdraw, as “the overwhelming sentiment of the Filipinos is that I am not qualified”.

The move comes amid speculation that his daughter could run for president.

Mr Duterte, a controversial “strongman” figure, came to power in 2016 on a platform of crushing crime and fixing the country’s drug crisis.

In the five years since his election, critics say he has encouraged police to carry out thousands of extrajudicial killings of suspects in what he’s called his “war on drugs”.e

The Philippines’ constitution only permits presidents to serve for a single six-year term.

Mr Duterte’s daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is currently mayor of the southern city of Davao, has given mixed messages about running for high office.

Last month she said that she would not join the race because she and her father had agreed that only one of them would stand in next year’s election.

However, she has led every opinion poll conducted this year.

Sara Duterte-Carpio
Image caption,Mr Duterte’s withdrawal paves the way for his daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, to run for the presidency

Mr Duterte announced his surprise retirement at the venue in Manila where he was expected to register his candidacy.

He said that standing for the vice-presidency “would be a violation of the constitution to circumvent the law, the spirit of the constitution”.

When Mr Duterte first announced his intention to run, there was widespread speculation that he would seek a politically weak running mate in order to rule from the number two role.

He had also publicly mused that, as vice-president, he would be immune from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for presiding over the brutal “war on drugs” that has killed thousands in the country.

However, it was unclear whether he would have retained legal immunity.

According to Amnesty International, more than 7,000 people were killed by police or unknown armed attackers in the first six months of Mr Duterte’s presidency.

In June, the prosecutor of the ICC applied to open a full investigation into drug war killings in the Philippines, saying crimes against humanity could have been committed.

If Ms Duterte-Carpio were to be elected president, she would be likely to protect her father from criminal charges in the Philippines and from ICC prosecutors.


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