MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Those hoping Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte will be part of the national government in 2016 are in for a disappointment.
The popular mayor, who has announced he is not running for president, said he won't accept any other national government posts.
Asked if he would accept an offer to run as vice president, or take posts in the Department of the Interior and Local Government or Metro Manila Development Authority, he said:
“No, I will not. I am going to retire after my term. Ayoko nga magtrabaho ng barangay captain (I don't even want to work as barangay captain)."
Duterte said this during a visit to Navotas and Malabon on Tuesday, September 8, a day after he clarified he was not running for Philippine president in 2016.
He laid to rest any hope he could be convinced otherwise. (READ: Netizens on Duterte's decision: He was our last hope for a better PH)
“I’m out of the race. I will retire after my term. I’ve been mayor of Davao for 22 years and I think it’s time for me to go. I never said in any forum that I’m interested to run,” he told reporters after he landed at the Navotas City Hall helipad.
Things won't change even if future political surveys show he is still a favorite among voters.
“Maski dayaan nila at ilagay akong number one, eh kanila na. Maski nga paupuin ako doon ayaw ko,” he said. (Even if they cheat and make me number one, they can have it. Even if they let me have it, I don't want it.)
The popular Davao City mayor so far won’t be endorsing any other presidential candidate, saying he would rather “be friends with them.”
But things will be different if a candidate decides to support federalism, a cause Duterte is passionate about.
“We would maybe support the candidate who will embrace it with passion. Otherwise, I don’t think federalism will take off.”
He also confirmed he was invited to the meeting with Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, along with top presidential aspirants Interior Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II, Senator Grace Poe and Vice President Jejomar Binay. He declined.
“I was extended an invitation but I responded saying, ‘I cannot join you’ because ang pinapatawag doon ang tatakbo ng presidente. Sinabi ko doon sa tumawag sa akin sa office niya, I am not a candidate so hindi ako kailangan doon (because the ones invited are running for president. I told the person who called me from his office, I am not a candidate so I am not needed there),” he said.
Speaking in front of City of Malabon University students, Duterte gave a more detailed explanation of his reasons for not running for president.
Rodrigo Duterte is greeted by warm and enthusiastic crowds in Malabon and Navotas
He placed emphasis on his lack of funds to pull off a nationwide campaign. Some would-be financial backers had approached him before, but he could not accept their help.
“Pinatawag ako ng 5 ng malaking spenders sa pulitika (I was called by 5 big spenders on politics). If there is one thing I cannot do is to ask for money from other people. That’s why I cannot be president,” he explained.
He said his two wives and daughter Sara objected to a presidential bid. He repeated previous statements that he was “too old” and had medical issues to deal with, including back pains due to a motorcycle accident years ago.
Duterte explained that his events in Navotas and Malabon had nothing to do with any 2016 aspirations.
They were, instead, previous commitments with the local officials there who invited him to visit “a long time ago.”
But the visit could not help but take on the mood of an electoral sortie.
Duterte was welcomed by throngs of supporters wearing shirts emblazoned with pro-Duterte slogans. They wore matching bracelets and rushed to take selfies with him. Chants of “Duterte! Duterte!” followed him.
After his speech, most of which was about federalism, a motorcade was conducted in his honor.
The Duterte students saw was in full form, far from the teary-eyed mayor in the previous day’s 14-minute press conference.
On stage, he was making jokes and playful “advances” to pretty girls in the crowd. He even sang. It seems that even if his ardent supporters are not yet ready to move on, he – at least – is.
Aquino to talk to Duterte
In a Q&A with the Philippine Daily Inquirer aired live on PTV4 on Tuesday, President Benigno Aquino III said he would talk to Duterte following his announcement that he would not seek the presidency.
Asked if Duterte's decision would benefit Vice President Jejomar Binay or Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Aquino said: "I think he is allied with us. He has endorsed me in my various endeavors into national politics. Perhaps, I think I better reserve some comments. We haven't really talked. Can we get him on board really, fully in Sec Mar's campaign."
"So I might be premature in saying anything at this point in time. Because I didn't have advance knowledge as to what he would say...I just read it in today's papers. I think it would be best for me to talk to him at some point in time at his convenience as to how we can get together, if possible, towards continuing the progress of this country," he added.
Duterte is also known to be a good friend of Roxas. The two are known to meet when Roxas is in Davao, leading to earlier suspicions that they were being considered as a tandem, which both camps dispelled. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.