If and only if: Recounting the many times Duterte cried ‘I will resign’
President Rodrigo Duterte considered resigning from the presidency numerous times, and the conditional statements that followed were varied. He would resign, yes, if his son, Davao City 1st District Rep. Paolo “Pulong” Duterte, vied for House speakership. Or he would resign, but only if enough women who were offended by his kiss with a married Filipina in Seoul signed a petition — that, or if he is given proof of God’s existence through a selfie, among others.
On a different occasion, he expressed his weariness and thought of quitting the presidency in August last year, only for former Special Assistant to the President and now Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go to clarify days later that Duterte is “physically and mentally fit” to finish his term. The latest of Duterte’s weariness woes was in April this year, when he said he does not know if he would be able to survive through his three remaining years, adding he is “tired” and “exasperated by corruption.” Nevertheless, he assured the public he would step down when his term ends in 2022.
As Duterte is slated to deliver his fourth State of the Nation Address on Monday, July 22, here is a rundown of the many times he said he would quit the presidency.
If the military asked him to step down – July 2019
Resorting to force to oust him may be unnecessary, as the President himself reminded the military early this July to just ask him to step down – and he would do so.
Duterte entertained the idea that there may come a time when the people would lose their patience about corruption in the government. When that time comes, he said, the military and police would have to decide somehow to intervene.
“Do not do it, please, during my term,” begged Duterte during the anniversary of the Philippine Air Force on July 2. “I told you before. All you have to do if you do not like me, do not bring your weapons and mechanized armor there. Just call me and we’ll have coffee and I am ready to say, ‘It’s yours for the taking.’”
Military officials then stated that the President should not fear a coup. As per Brig. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, “[The military] is composed of professional and matured servicemen and women who are patriots and loyal to the Constitution and the duly constituted authorities.”
PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde, meanwhile, laughed off the idea and assured the President and the public that the police force has no such plan of ousting him.
Meanwhile, Army Chief Lt. Gen. Macairog Alberto said on July 12 that any plan to stage a coup will not succeed since it is difficult to recruit soldiers. Echoing Arevalo’s statement, Alberto said that “100 percent of the AFP is loyal to the flag and the Constitution.”
If son “Pulong” vies for House speakership – May 2019
Duterte told his son Paolo, a.k.a Pulong, that he would step down if Paolo vies for the speakership of the House of Representatives, as the President himself stated during the oath-taking of newly-appointed government officials in Malacañang on May 27.
“Itong si Paolo, sinabi ko sa kanya: ‘If you run for speakership, let me know. Kasi kung tatakbo ka, magre-resign ako.’ Kasi marami na tayo. Nandyan na ang kapatid mo na mayor. So uneasy,” said Duterte. (There are already so many of us in government. Your sister is already a mayor. So it is uneasy.)
Paolo initially said he had no interest in the position of House Speaker, but he made a 180-degree turn on July 2 when he said that the House is divided, and he may be able to help unite it. He, however, backed out of his plan to join the race on July 6 after having a personal talk with his father and instead expressed his support for Davao City 3rd District Rep. Isidro Ungab to become the House Speaker.
Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco will instead share the House speakership, as per Duterte on July 8, with Cayetano serving as Speaker in the first 15 months of the 18th Congress. Velasco will then succeed him to serve for the next 21 months.
If he is succeeded by Bongbong Marcos or Chiz Escudero – August 2018
The President continued thinking about stepping down from office just two years into his six-year term. Duterte, in a speech before entrepreneurs at Malacañang on Aug. 14, 2018, cited exhaustion from never-ending corruption as the reason for his seeming demotivation.
“I want you to know that I am thinking of stepping down because I’m tired,” he said. “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.”
He said he does not think he can fulfil his promise to the people of stopping corruption, and still cannot succeed even beyond his term. He added that he is “ready to go anytime” since he was “getting old and exasperated.”
On the same night, Duterte said he does not think Vice President Leni Robredo would be able to handle taking over as President.
“I think deep in my heart, if you follow the succession and Robredo takes over, hindi niya kaya,” said Duterte then. “Hindi niya kaya, that’s my honest opinion ko lang. Kung sino lang sana diyan, in the likes of Escudero or Bongbong Marcos. I do not think she can improve on anything here.”
Days later, SAP Bong Go clarified Duterte’s remarks, saying he was just tired and infuriated by the corruption in the military and other government agencies. Go insisted that the President, despite the admitted exhaustion, is physically and mentally fit to complete his term.
At that time, Robredo was facing an electoral protest before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) after Marcos accused her of cheating in the May 2016 elections.
Robredo’s camp, however, called on to the PET to resolve Marcos’ election protest last June 13. As per Robredo’s counsel Atty. Romulo Macalintal, the result of the recent revision, recount and re-appreciation of ballots from three provinces Marcos chose showed Robredo with a wide lead of about 15,000. Robredo has garnered 14,438,750 votes in the recount, raising her lead to 279,215 votes — higher than her winning margin of 263,473 votes when she ran as vice president in 2016.
But the PET already denied Robredo’s urgent motion, ruling out last Thursday, July 18 that figures submitted by Robredo to support her request are “merely speculative.” PET explained that “[the] Tribunal is still in the process of appreciation of the revised ballots and ruling on the negative objections and claims made by the parties thereon.”
“The Tribunal has yet to complete the proceedings following Rule 65 the 2010 PET rules, which entails judicial recount, revision and appreciation of the votes cast in protestant’s [Marcos’] pilot provinces,” the PET added.
If he is given proof of God’s existence through a selfie – July 2018
Duterte is neither an agnostic nor an atheist, but a self-confessed believer in God. He, however, challenged people on July 6, 2018, to prove to him that God exists by showing him a selfie with the creator. If done so, he would resign.
“By the way, I believe in one Supreme God. I never said I do not believe in him God. I am not agnostic. I am not an atheist,” Duterte said during the opening of the National Science and Technology Week in Davao City.
He added he only needed one person to prove to him that they were able to talk to and see God, and he would immediately step down from the presidency.
“You do that today, one single witness that there is a guy, a human being who was able to talk, to see God. Of the so many billions who had been on here [on earth], I just need one,” Duterte said. “And if there is one, ladies and gentlemen, I will announce my resignation immediately.”
During his speech, he also criticized the Church for collecting money from people to “maintain the palaces and the luxurious things that the rest of humanity do not have.” The week prior, Duterte was slammed for calling God “stupid” in another speech, prompting a Catholic bishop to brand him a “psychopath.”
If enough women offended by his Seoul kiss signed a petition – June 2018
Unpresidential was the general sentiment of critics about Duterte after he kissed a married Filipino woman, identified as Bea Kim, during his visit to Seoul, South Korea on June 3, 2018.
The president, upon his return from South Korea, told the press that he would step down if there were enough women offended by the kiss to sign a petition for him to resign.
“If there are enough women to… Well, I think if all women here would sign a petition for me to resign, I will resign,” Duterte told reporters at Ninoy Aquino International Airport on June 5, 2018.
Duterte also said that he and Kim “enjoyed” the kiss.
At that time, then-Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque defended the kiss in a CNN interview, saying it is “a light moment that is very accepted in the culture of Filipinos.” He also said Kim clearly expressed she was honored with the kiss.
If he is given proof of involvement in Sereno ouster – May 2018
Duterte also promised to resign if anyone could prove that he was behind the ouster of former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in May 2018.
“If there’s one congresswoman or congressman or a single justice who will say I talked to them, I can guarantee you, I will resign,” Duterte said in a press conference in Malacañang on May 15, 2018.
Sereno was booted out of the Supreme Court on May 11, 2018 by her own colleagues with a close 8-6 vote. The quo warranto petition was brought against Sereno by Solicitor General Jose Calida two months prior due to Sereno’s inability to submit all the required financial documents when she applied for the Chief Justice position back in 2012.
If he failed to pass BBL into law – April 2018
Duterte was determined to fast-track the passage of the Bangsomoro Basic Law and threatened in April last year that he would resign if it is not passed before the end of May that year. He believed that passing the BBL into law is needed to achieve peace in Mindanao, and planned to declare the whole island a land reform area for its people once peace is made possible.
“Let us fast-track the [passage of the] BBL. The BBL does not mean all of Mindanao will be Moro,” Duterte said while in Buluan, Maguindanao then. “(BBL) would be like the Liberal or (Nacionalista) Party. It will amplify the voice of the Moro for the national government to listen to.”
The 17th Congress at that period was slated to resume sessions on May 14, 2018. As per Duterte, he would be a “useless President” if his administration is not able to solve the Philippines’ problems, particularly the Moro problem. He also promised he would talk to Nur Misuari, the founding chair of the Moro National Liberation Front, on what the arrangement would be.
“I am promising you, it will pass before May [ends]. If not, I will resign from the presidency,” he said. “I want you to be established. I will talk to Nur on what the arrangement would be, but you will have a definite Moro territory. All the government land, that’s yours.”
In July 2018, Duterte said in a speech in Zamboanga that he had already signed the BBL, which was renamed to the Bangsamoro Organic Law or BOL (Republic Act No. 11054). Then-Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque also confirmed at that time that the president has indeed signed the BOL.
The BOL sees the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and covers the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
If he failed to increase salary of police officers, soldiers – February 2018
Another instance Duterte threatened to resign was if he failed to fulfill his promise of increasing the salary of police officers and soldiers by the end of 2017. This was initially a secret and was revealed by former PNP Chief Director General and now Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa during a mass oath-taking of police personnel on Feb. 5, 2018.
“Sabi ni Presidente sa kanyang Gabinete at sa kanyang mga kaibigan sa Congress na if by the end of 2017, ‘if I cannot fulfill my promise to increase, times two, ‘yung sweldo ng pulis at sundalo, magre-resign ako,’” dela Rosa told his men.
“Hindi n’yo alam ‘yan, ngayon ko lang sasabihin sa inyo,” dela Rosa added. “Sinabi talaga ni Presidente na ‘magre-resign ako dahil wala na akong mukhang ihaharap sa kanila, sinabi ko ‘yan, that was my promise.’”
As per dela Rosa, Congress and the Cabinet expedited the process toward the end of 2017 just so Duterte could deliver his promise.
Duterte signed Joint Resolution No. 1 to increase the base pay of military and uniformed personnel on Jan. 1, 2018. Under the resolution, a Police Officer 1 (PO1) would receive P29,668 monthly base pay from the previous P14,834 starting in the Jan. 15 payroll. An average pay increase of 58.7% would also be given to all other police ranks.
If Congress, Filipino people crafted new Constitution – November 2017
Duterte also said he would step down as president if Congress and the entire Filipino people would craft a new Constitution that will improve “everything” and get rid of “evil things.”
His remark was made in a speech during the Volunteers against Crime and Corruption (VACC) Anti-Corruption Summit at the Philippine International Convention Center on Nov. 28, 2017.
“Ako, I will make a deal, if Congress and the entire Filipino people, we craft a new Constitution,” Duterte said then. “Marami kaming — pati ako sasali (we are many — even I will join), I will place my input there.”
He called for a Constitution that is inclusive and, if actually made, would be his cue to resign by end of 2017.
“Let’s have a Constitution na kasali lahat, inclusive. Then when it is done, this year — or I will resign at the end of the year, it would be fitting,” he said. “And if it is done this year, I will resign the end of the year. The end of the year is the end of my political career.”
If he failed to eradicate the drug problem in the country – November 2017
Duterte also mulled resigning if he would not be able to curb illegal drugs in the Philippines. He said this during the 67th Founding Anniversary of the First Scout Ranger Regiment in Camp Tecson, San Miguel Bulacan on Nov. 24, 2017.
“I cannot accept. I simply cannot accept it. And if I cannot control drugs then maybe it is time for me to think about resignation,” he said. “‘Pag hindi ko kaya ito, bababa talaga. Sabihin ko sa inyo.”
Eradicating drugs in the country has been Duterte’s battlecry during his campaign, when he promised he would quit the presidency if he fails in ending the drug problem within his first 3 to 6 months in office. When the deadline passed, however, he asked for another 6-month extension.
He later admitted in August 2017 that he was wrong with his self-imposed deadline on quashing the drug problem. He asked again for an extension, stating his drug war would extend up to his last day as president in 2022.
If corruption claim vs. son Paolo is proven true – August 2017
Three months prior, Duterte said he was ready to resign if the corruption allegation against his son Paolo was proven true. The remark was made on Aug. 9, 2017, in a speech during a business forum in Mandaluyong City.
“Corruption was really one [thing] I do not like. Pati ‘yung anak ko ngayon, sinasali diyan sa Customs,” Duterte said. “I told you before and I’m telling you now again, kung sino sa mga anak ko ma-involve sa corruption, I will immediately resign. That, you have my word.”
Duterte’s remark came just two days after customs broker Mark Taguba mentioned Paolo’s name during a hearing at the House of Representatives. As per Taguba, Paolo was involved in the transactions of a certain “Davao group” at the Customs bureau in Davao City. But Taguba said during the hearing that he has no evidence. He also said he has never talked to Paolo, and that it was only a rumor. Paolo has since denied Taguba’s allegation, affirming it was based on rumors.
If Trillanes proves Duterte’s various bank accounts amounting to P2 billion – February 2017
Duterte also said he would resign “immediately” if Sen. Antonio Trillanes could prove his accusation that Duterte had over P2 billion in different bank accounts.
Duterte challenged Trillanes during an interview at the presidential guest house in Panacan, Davao on Feb. 16, 2017, saying, “This I can say: If Trillanes can prove his allegations that I have amassed P2 billion illegally, or if that bank account under my name has a total deposit at one time of even just half a billion, I will resign as president immediately.”
Prior to Duterte’s remark, Trillanes apparently challenged him to bare to the public his bank transactions to disprove he had P2.2 billion in three bank branches from 2006 to 2015.
But Duterte claimed that the accusation was an old issue and challenged the senator to go to court instead and charge him there: “I would advise Trillanes to go to court and file the proper case against me and advise him further to stop opening his mouth if he has nothing to say anyway.”
If shift to federalism takes effect within his term – July 2016
Just almost a month into his presidency, Duterte expressed his willingness to step down if the shift to federalism takes effect during his term. He said this during a speech in an event with the League of Cities and Provinces at Malacañang on July 27, 2016,
“Two years, if you have the federal set up, I will resign as President. Three years, sibat ako. Four years, ay salamat,” he said. “My advice is copy, copy the French setup. We have to because ang Filipino gusto talaga niya mag-boto ng Presidente ‘yan. Hindi mo kunin sa kanila ‘yan eh.” (We have to follow the French setup because Filipinos really want to vote for Presidents. You do not take that away from them.)
He also said that he could offer to resign as soon as the shift to federalism was ready because it would “automatically, legally mean hindi na ako pwede (I am no longer allowed), so I will offer to resign.”
Duterte said the same thing during his first State of the Nation Address on July 25, two days prior, adding he would no longer run for president if the system would move forward.
When one is tired and drained of desire
One amusing thing worth looking back, though, is while Duterte keeps saying he will resign, he declared no interest in the presidency in the first place, as far back as when he was still mayor of Davao City.
“I want to retire, I am tired,” he said back in October 2015. “Give the presidency to the one who wants it. I don’t.” But he changed his mind, teamed up with Cayetano for the 2016 elections, ran, and then won.
Like clockwork, the President shall deliver his fourth State of the Nation Address on July 22. Multiple threats of resignation, along with all the whys behind these, have by now become a staple thing to hear from him, that it might actually figure in his SONA yet again. Or maybe not. But if it does, one could not help but wonder what the new instance’s nuance would be – what would be this year’s variation on the same tune? JB
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.