Commentary PHL Vote 2022

Duterte’s run for VP is bad for the country’s health

Those egging President Rodrigo Duterte to run for vice president in the May 2022 elections are doing a grave disservice to the country. Mark them for their self-serving push.

Rep. Eric Martinez, a House deputy speaker, was quoted as saying that the reason behind the resolution urging Duterte to seek the vice presidency in next year’s polls was to ensure the “continuity” of his projects and programs into the next administration.

That’s a preposterous alibi to push personal and partisan agenda at the expense of a 76-year-old man who already has difficulty walking in a straight line and who has expressed his desire several times to resign, not only because he is frustrated with the lingering corruption in government but also because he is exhausted.

Pagod na ako (I am tired),” Duterte said last March 18 in Tacloban City during an assembly on the government’s efforts to combat the local armed communists.

Talking about the government projects to help former rebels rebuild their lives, he said he was uncertain if he could still witness the full implementation of these programs considering that his term was winding down. “Ewan ko kung makakaya ko pa maabutan. ‘Pag wala, kayo na ang magpasensya kasi ang panahon ko paliit nang paliit na (I don’t know if I can reach it. If not, bear with us because my term is winding down),” he said.

Duterte has also previously complained of the heavy burdens of the presidency, including long working hours, but with measly pay and constant criticisms and insults from rivals.

He has also discouraged his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, from seeking the presidency, saying that it was no job for a woman.

Duterte’s partymates in the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) approved the resolution urging him to seek the country’s second-highest position during a national council meeting convened in Cebu last May 31. Duterte is the party’s chairman.

Raul Lambino, the party’s vice president for external affairs, said the resolution was a product of earlier petitions from several local governments and other officials who were not even party members across the country to convince Duterte to run for vice president and to choose his running mate for president in the 2022 national elections.

Traditionally, the candidate for president is given the privilege to choose the vice-presidential running mate. This time, PDP-Laban members want the vice-presidential wannabe to do the honors of handpicking the candidate for president. Change is coming, huh!

Why are President Duterte’s supposed allies pushing him to seek the vice presidency and choose the person he would be running with as president? It may be a smart way to ingratiate themselves with the president for their own candidacy in the upcoming elections. They want his endorsement, which means access to the party’s campaign kitty and the use of government resources for their political gain.

Duterte seems to be playing along. If we are to believe his spokesman, Harry Roque, he is not contemplating on retiring from politics when his term ends in June 2022. The president, Roque said, is leaving to God whether to seek the vice presidency or not. I wonder if he was talking about the same God whom he had cursed several times. Has Duterte turned prayerful?

But while the President is apparently entertaining the thought of running in next year’s elections, Roque also said that this is not the time for politics and that attention must be focused on containing the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Yet, wasn’t it Duterte himself who had instructed Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, vice chairman of PDP-Laban, to convene and preside over the national council meeting in Cebu despite protests from Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, the party’s acting president?

Based on developments in the past few weeks, the ruling party’s leaders cannot seem to get their act together. How can we expect them to respond effectively to the challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic and manage to nurse the economy back to health?

Having Duterte as vice president in 2022 and beyond would be bad not only for his health but also for the economy. How can he stand the rigors of another campaign when he can barely appear publicly as often as he should, presiding over important meetings, giving instructions and making decisive actions on crucial issues?

Let Duterte enjoy his retirement after June 30, 2022.

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.

This column also appeared in The Manila Times.