Duterte’s unpredictability: When actions don’t match words
MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte by now has shown himself to be unpredictable as his record of saying something and doing another, particularly about politics, has been well documented since the start of his term in 2016.
On Oct. 2, Duterte arrived at the Harbor Garden Tent of the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City with Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go and made a statement that came as a surprise initially but would elicit doubts as it sounded similar to his previous statements that he did not match with his actions.
Duterte, who had accepted the nomination of the Cusi wing of PDP-Laban as vice presidential candidate, announced he was withdrawing the acceptance.
In a turn of events that was both surprising and familiar, Duterte said he was retiring from politics.
“I’d like to address myself to the entire nation. The universal sentiment of the Filipino has been reflected in the different surveys and in many forums and, well, caucuses and meetings to discuss what I should do in my life,” Duterte said after Go filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for vice president.
“The overwhelming sentiment of the Filipinos is that I am not qualified, and it would be a violation of the Constitution to circumvent the law, the spirit of the Constitution,” he added.
The statement drew quick comparisons with what Duterte had said in the past starting in 2015 when he, still Davao City mayor then, announced that he was not running for president.
Throughout his term, Duterte said he would resign—at least 17 times—citing different reasons.
But looking back, he made a pronouncement that would be a prophecy of what’s to come in the COC filing period. It could also be a remark made out of haste.
What he said in Aug. 2018
In August 2018, Duterte said he was thinking about stepping down from office due to exhaustion from never-ending corruption.
“I want you to know that I am thinking of stepping down because I’m tired,” he said in a speech before entrepreneurs at Malacañang.
“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 added.
Duterte, who was then 73 years old, also said he was “ready to go anytime,” as he was “getting old and exasperated.”
However, he clarified that he does not want Vice President Leonor “Leni” Robredo to be his successor, although it was enshrined in the Constitution.
Instead, he expressed preference for two other politicians, who are not on the succession list, as his replacement—Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero and Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
“I think deep in my heart, if you follow the succession and Robredo takes over, she can’t do it,” Duterte said then.
“She can’t do it. That’s my honest opinion. Anyone else would do, like Escudero or Bongbong Marcos,” he said.
One of the two names Duterte mentioned, Escudero, had already filed his COC for senator last week.
On the other hand, Marcos has yet to announce whether to run for president as awaited by Marcos loyalists and civil society groups for different reasons.
Last June, Duterte again named Marcos as his preferred replacement. He named other choices, though: Go, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, Manila City Isko Moreno, and his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.
No confirmation yet, but…
Although Marcos has been playing coy about his election plans and has yet to file a COC, he has previously expressed his intention to run for president in the 2022 elections.
In February this year, just a day after the Supreme Court upheld Robredo’s 2016 electoral victory, Marcos’ lawyer Vice Rodriguez announced that the namesake of the late dictator and former president would be running in the 2022 elections.
Last month, Marcos himself confirmed that he is considering a run for president.
“I feel that at least it’s a possibility. It’s certainly part of the plan. The presidency is not taken off the table by any means,” Marcos said at an online forum.
“I do better in the presidential survey than the vice-presidential survey. So that’s a common sentiment — that many of our supporters want me to run for the presidency,” he added.
A few days after, he expressed his confidence in winning against Robredo “if it’s going to be a one-on-one fight.”
The Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL), a party founded by the late dictator, has endorsed Marcos as its presidential candidate.
The PDP-Laban faction of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi had also said that it was ready to embrace Marcos as new party member.
Oppose presidential bid
Ahead of Marcos’ announcement for his political plans, several organizations from the University of the Philippines (UP) have expressed protest against the presidential run of the late dictator’s son.
“We have seen Bongbong Marcos and his desperate attempts to win a position in the government,” said a statement signed by 31 UP Manila student groups, frats, sororities, councils and publications.
Marcos, the statement said, “has no significant achievements on his own and only exploits the so-called accomplishments of the older Marcos to gather support from his audience.”
“The power-hungry Marcos family will always jump at any opportunity to reclaim authority. The family continuously denies their involvement in graft and corruption despite the numerous guilty verdicts in US courts and the Sandiganbayan.” it added.
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