Thursday, September 20, 2018
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Duterte: I’m thinking of quitting the presidency

CORRUPTION IN GOVERNMENT Tired and frustrated that his anticorruption campaign in the bureaucracy is not bearing fruit, President Duterte says he is thinking of leaving his post in a speech during the launching of Pilipinas Angat sa Lahat Alliance in Malacañang on Tuesday night. INQUIRER PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

Just two years into his six-year term, President Rodrigo Duterte is thinking of stepping down from office, saying he is tired of and exasperated by endemic corruption in government.

Reacting to the President’s statement, the head of the administration’s economic team suggested that he take a vacation and get some rest, while a senator said the President’s desire to step down should not be taken literally.

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In a speech before entrepreneurs at Malacañang on Tuesday night, the President complained that his fight against corruption seemed to be not bearing fruit.

Graft ‘so embedded’

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Recalling his recent joint command conference with the police and military, he said: “I want you to know that I am thinking of stepping down because I’m tired.”

He added: “While I am not against or angry against anybody, my chase against graft and corruption seems to be endless and it has contaminated almost all government departments and offices.”

The President said graft was “so embedded and endemic” that it was always a part of government transactions.

“I do not think that I can fulfill my promise to the people … I said ‘I will try to stop corruption,’ which I’m doing. And still, I cannot succeed even beyond my term,” he added.

The 73-year-old President said he was “ready to go anytime,” as he was “getting old and exasperated.”

He has said he suffers from daily migraines and ailments, including a rare cardiovascular condition characterized by inflammation of blood vessels usually due to smoking.

The President said he was afraid that he “could even hardly make a dent” with his remaining years in office.

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Nayong Pilipino, V. Luna

He cited his decision last week to fire the entire management and board of directors of Nayong Pilipino Foundation over what Malacañang called a “grossly disadvantageous” lease contract with a foreign firm to put up a casino on the foundation’s property in Parañaque.

He also mentioned his order to relieve and court-martial 20 military officials for corruption at AFP Medical Center, also known as V. Luna Medical Center.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, a childhood friend of the President, said the chief executive needed a break: “One-week [vacation] would be nice, two weeks would be better.”

Dominguez said most Filipinos would understand that the President “needs a holiday.”

Senate President Vicente Sotto III surmised that the President might have made his comments “because of exhaustion.”

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the President’s desire to step down should not be taken literally, as he was just expressing frustration over what he saw in the past few weeks, including corruption in the military.

But Sen. Manny Pacquiao said he believed the President meant what he said, though he would not abandon his mandate out of love for the people.

Nothing new

At the House of Representatives, an opposition lawmaker said the President’s remark was nothing new.

“It’s just one way of showing his disgust because of his failure to make good on his promise regarding the war on drugs and the fight against corruption,” Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice said. “We should not laugh at his jokes.”

Alliance of Concerned Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said the President would not resign “because the moment he does so, he loses presidential immunity from suit.”

The President’s declaration of stepping down from power was “farthest from the truth,” said Jose Maria “Joma” Sison, exiled Communist Party of the Philippines founder.

“So long as he can cling to his position, he will … maximize his power to delay his day of trial before the International Criminal Court,” Sison said. —With reports from Ben O. de Vera, DJ Yap, Marlon Ramos, Jerome Aning and Delfin T. Mallari Jr.

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TAGS: Presidency, Rodrigo Duterte
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