Duterte in the Philippines quits Senate race in new electoral twist

The president filed withdrawal papers with the election commission hours after his longtime aide Senator Christopher “Bong Go” did the same, a decision Duterte’s spokesman said was to allow him to serve better the country.

The constitution bars Duterte, 76, from running for re-election as president, but he was allowed to run for other positions in the May 2022 national election.

He had planned to continue as vice-president, but instead chose to run for a seat in the powerful senate.

The pullout is the latest twist in a Filipino election race full of last-minute changes and surprises that have baffled political experts.

Go did not perform well in opinion polls and it is unclear who will have the approval of Duterte, who has maintained a consistently high approval rating since winning the 2016 election as foreigner promising to fight crime and drugs.

“The idea may be continuity, but how can there be continuity if there is no presidential candidate for the administration?” said political scientist Edmund Tayao.

The president’s daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, had been tipped to succeed him, but instead chose to run for vice-president alongside the late dictator’s son, Ferdinand Marcos, who became one of the early favorites. .

On Tuesday, she said she supported her father’s decision.

The stakes are high for Duterte, who has made as many enemies as allies during a presidency strewn with government scandals and made famous around the world by the staggering toll of his bloody war on drugs.

“The momentum has really turned against (the administration) in the last few months,” said Richard Heydarian, author, columnist and political scholar. “The president is struggling to find a place in the 2022 race.”

Victor Manhit, analyst for the Stratbase think tank, said Duterte’s withdrawal was likely to transfer his base of support to his daughter and Marcos, in order to “consolidate their forces to secure a victory”.

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