VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Palace sings different tune on Duterte’s 2022 bid for VP

From expressing that President Rodrigo Duterte will not likely vie for another position in the upcoming 2022 elections, Malacañang is now saying the president is “leav[ing] to God” the decision to run again, this time for the country’s second highest post.

STATEMENT

In a press briefing on May 27, Palace Spokesperson Harry Roque was asked if Duterte is “seriously considering running for vice president.” This was two days after Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said in a media interview that the 76-year-old Duterte “will be open” in doing so only if there is a “strong” public clamor for it.

Roque’s answer:

“I think I will quote the President, he leaves it to God.”

Source: Presidential Communications Operations Office, Press Briefing of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, May 27, 2021, watch from 16:09 to 16:23 (archived)

In a subsequent briefing on May 31, Roque said the only thing that could make Duterte run for vice president would be a “message from God” and that the latter would “make the proper announcement in due course” if “he thinks it is God’s will.”

FLIP-FLOP

This was a shift from Roque’s pronouncement in November 2020, when he dismissed the idea that Duterte was interested in running again for any position in 2022.

In his Nov. 23, 2020 briefing, the spokesperson commented on the earlier suggestion of Panelo that Duterte run as vice president to his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio. Roque said:

Ang pagkakaalam ko po eh atat na atat na si presidenteng matapos ang kanyang termino’t gusto na niyang umuwi dito sa Davao ‘no. So iyong Duterte-Duterte tandem po na sinasabi ni Secretary Panelo, iyan po ay kaniyang personal na opinyon.

(From what I know, the president is so eager to finish his term because he wants to go back home to Davao [City]. So the Duterte-Duterte tandem Secretary Panelo was saying, that is his personal opinion.)

Source: Presidential Communications Operations Office, Press Briefing of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Nov. 23, 2020, watch from 8:29 to 9:10 (archived)

In March this year, however, Roque was not as sure. After some members of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), which Duterte chairs, signed a resolution urging him to run for the position, the Palace spokesperson said:

“I have no information on that. I will consult the president about this possibility, bagama’t (although) I’ve heard the president say at one point na, siyempre, naging presidente na siya (that, of course, he was already president). Bakit siya magba-vice president (Why would he [run again] to become vice president)? Pero (But) I don’t know if there’s been any change.”

Source: Presidential Communications Operations Office, Press Briefing of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, March 11, 2021, watch from 39:27 to 39:57 (archived)

But during the May 27 briefing, a reporter pointed out this apparent turnaround and asked if Duterte had, indeed, changed his mind. Roque said:

“No. I think you have to accept his answer for what it is. He leaves it to God.”

Even before Roque’s shifting pronouncements, Duterte himself once said in November 2019 that he will “no longer run” or support a candidate in the upcoming polls.

During an exclusive interview on CNN Philippines, Duterte was asked why he fired Vice President Leni Robredo, the leading opposition figure, from the Cabinet less than three weeks after appointing her as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drug (ICAD). (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Panelo negates Duterte, now says Robredo had ‘access to everything’ in ICAD; VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Robredo contradicts LP spox; accepts offer to lead efforts vs. illegal drugs)

In the course of his response, the president said:

"[To the] Filipino people [who] are listening to me: Hindi na po ako pulitiko, hindi na po ako tumakbo, wala akong kandidato. Sinasabi ko lang sa inyo, disgrasya kayo 'pag si Leni ang [maging presidente] (I’m not a politician anymore. I will not run. I don’t have any candidates. I’m only telling you, it will be a disaster if Leni becomes [president])..."

Source: CNN Philippines, EXCLUSIVE: One-on-one with President Rodrigo Duterte, Nov. 29, 2019, watch from 23:40 to 23:52 (archived)

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The issue of Duterte’s candidacy for the vice presidency has sown discord within PDP-Laban, with the party president, Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, disowning the March resolution which, he said, was “unauthorized.” In a press briefing on March 12, Pacquiao addressed the issue and specifically warned Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, PDP-Laban vice chairperson, not to “divide the party for [the latter’s] own interests.”

More recently, in a memorandum dated May 25, Pacquiao “strongly advisedparty members to “ignore” Cusi’s call for a national assembly set for May 31 since it was “not sanctioned.” He further reminded party members that any call for an assembly “must be approved by both the chairman and president only.”

Cusi then issued a statement on May 28, reiterating that the assembly is “part and parcel of the democratic process that every major political party should embrace.”

On May 30, Roque confirmed that Duterte himself had directed Cusi to “organize, convene and preside over the council meeting.”

Meanwhile, some analysts and politicians, including House minority leader and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, have warned against Duterte’s potential run for vice president, saying it might be a way to circumvent the prohibition for re-election of an incumbent president under the 1987 Constitution.


Sources

One News PH YouTube, President Duterte not closing doors for 2022 VP bid, says chief legal counsel, May 26, 2021

PTV YouTube, WATCH: Press briefing with Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, May 27, 2021 (transcript, archived)

PTV YouTube, WATCH: Press briefing with Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, May 31, 2021

RTVMalacanang YouTube, Counterpoint with Secretary Salvador Panelo, Nov. 20, 2020

RTVMalacanang YouTube, Counterpoint with Secretary Salvador Panelo, Sept. 21, 2020

Presidential Communications Operations Office, Press Briefing of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Nov. 23, 2020 (archived)

Presidential Communications Operations Office official Facebook, Spox Roque Press Briefing, Nov. 23, 2020

Philstar.com, Duterte’s partymates want him to run for VP in 2022, March 11, 2021

CNN Philippines, PDP-Laban wants President Dutete to run for VP in 2022, March 11, 2021

Inquirer.net, PDP-Laban members urge Duterte to run for VP in 2022 – lawmaker, March 11, 2021

Presidential Communications Operations Office, Press Briefing of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, March 11, 2021 (archived)

PTV YouTube, WATCH: Press briefing with Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, March 11, 2021

CNN Philippines, EXCLUSIVE: One-on-one with President Rodrigo Duterte, Nov. 29, 2019 (archived)

Rappler, Duterte for VP? Pacquiao warns PDP-Laban members over 'unauthorized' reso, March 12, 2021

Inquirer.net, Pacquiao: PDP-Laban reso on Duterte’s 2022 VP bid unauthorized, March 12, 2020

Business World, Party statement on Duterte for VP unauthorized — Pacquiao, March 12, 2020

ABS-CBN News, Pacquiao nagpatutsada sa kapartido: Unahin ang pandemya bago politika | TV Patrol, March 12, 2021

Rappler, PDP-Laban rift: Pacquiao tells members to ‘ignore’ Cusi’s call for national assembly, May 27, 2021

Inquirer.net, Ignore Cusi’s call for nat’l assembly, Pacquiao urges PDP-Laban members, May 27, 2021

ABS-CBN News, Pacquiao orders PDP-Laban members to ignore Cusi's call for party assembly, May 27, 2021

Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi official Facebook account, STATEMENT OF PDP-LABAN VICE CHAIRMAN ALFONSO G. CUSI, May 28, 2021

Office of the Presidential Spokesperson, Statement: On PDP-Laban, May 30, 2021 (archived)

1st District of Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman official website, Press Statement: LAGMAN: “DUTERTE-DUTERTE” CIRCUMVENTS CONSTITUTION, INSTALLS FAMILIAL HEGEMONY, Jan. 28, 2021

ANC 24/7, Duterte urged by party mates to run for vice president in 2022, March 12, 2021

Official Gazette of the Philippines, The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines: Article VII, Sec. 4


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

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