Duterte: Option to run as president 'already open'

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Mayor Rodrigo Duterte declared Thursday night, November 19, “the option [for him] to run as president is already open.”

In a press conference after he attended the city-wide youth congress in the afternoon, Duterte – who has been giving mixed signals about his plans for 2016 – said he is terribly disgusted and disappointed by recent developments in the country.

YOUTH CONGRESS. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte addresses the youth at the Almendras Gym on November 19. Photo by Editha Caduaya/Rappler

YOUTH CONGRESS. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte addresses the youth at the Almendras Gym on November 19.

Photo by Editha Caduaya/Rappler

“First, let us just say, I am terribly disappointed. Second, I cannot accept Grace Poe as a legitimate candidate for president because I agree with the justices of the SC (Supreme Court) that this is a legal issue and not a political issue. Third, the option for me to run for president is already open," he stressed.

When pressed by reporters to clarify what he meant, Duterte reiterated, "The option is already open to me because I am terribly disappointed."

He added, he cannot accept Poe as his president. "This is not about politics. But this is a constitutional issue, a legal issue, I cannot accept an American president."

On November 17, the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) voted 5-4 denying the petition to disqualify Poe from the 2013 senatorial elections. It was filed on the premise she is not a natural-born Filipino.

The decision is expected to have a bearing on some of the cases filed separately against her seeking her disqualification from the 2016 presidential race. It lifts one of the major obstacles to her presidential candidacy.

Poe was the front runner in the September 2015 survey of Pulse Asia, obtaining a rating of 26%. Another survey conducted by Laylo Research Strategies from September 21 to October 1, showed that in a 3-way presidential race without Duterte, Poe would win with 47% of respondents saying they would vote for her. That survey was done before Duterte announced on October 12 he was not running.

A month later, a visibly irritated Duterte faced the media and said, “Stop fucking the Filipino people. Even people who are at the airport are victimized by laglag-bala (planted bullets), the drugs problem. And the government does not have a concrete program for these. They are in power, they are receiving salaries, and yet they are not doing what is necessary for governance. As I said, stop fucking the Filipino people.”

Listening tour

The airport incidents, according to Duterte, indicate how government works, while the tax exemptions and other pronouncements by the administration are cosmetic solutions to a serious problem besetting the country.

"The drugs problem, the criminalities, the corruption – if they cannot stop it and if nobody fixes the government, I will do it for free for the Filipino people," Duterte said.

When asked how he could stop these problems, Duterte countered with a question: “Will you sell your votes?”

When a radio reporter answered, “No, Mayor,” Duterte said, “Then, I will give it to you for free.”

People close to Duterte revealed that the tough-talking mayor is scheduled to continue his listening tour in other parts of the country in the next few days.

Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, the eldest son of Duterte, earlier revealed that the Duterte siblings, including the Mayor’s ex-wife Elizabeth, will support his political decision.

“Whatever it is, we support him 100%,” he said. – Rappler.com