2022 Philippine Elections

With elections near, Duterte dreams of retirement: ‘Nag-eempake na ako’

Rambo Talabong
With elections near, Duterte dreams of retirement: ‘Nag-eempake na ako’

RAMBLING. President Rodrigo Duterte during his February 7, 2022, Talk to the People broadcast.

RTVM screenshot

Rodrigo Duterte Duterte says he has been daydreaming about finally being called the 'outgoing president,' looks forward to soldiers outside the palace gates no longer saluting him

President Rodrigo Duterte says he is already packing less than five months before his stay in Malacañang is up.

On the eve of the campaign period for candidates who seek to replace him, Duterte briefly shared that he had been longing for retirement. February 8 marks the beginning of the 90-day campaign period ahead of the May elections.

Person, Human, Hand

Trailing off as usual in his Talk to the People program, Duterte on Monday night, February 7, said he had started taking his belongings out of the presidential palace.

Nag-eempake na nga ako eh. ‘Yung iba, ‘pinadala ko na sa barko,” Duterte said. (I have started packing. I have had some of my belongings shipped.)

Duterte said he had been daydreaming about finally being called the “outgoing president.” He imagined himself inviting the incoming president into the Palace for a conversation, or, as he said it, a “tête-à-tête”, before he would finally leave Malacañang. On that day, Duterte said, he would be looking forward to the soldiers outside the palace gates no longer saluting him.

“That’s how it is…. If you’re the president, even if you hunch forward, they will still salute you,” Duterte said in Filipino.

Duterte slipped into reverie after thinking aloud about his successor at the tail end of the program intended to give pandemic updates to Filipinos. (READ: Data show people are tuning out of Duterte’s late-night talks)

He said that unless he found a “compelling reason” to do so, he would not publicly express his support for any candidate. This reservation was in spite of his daughter, Sara Duterte, running with Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, whose family sustained an alliance with Duterte throughout his administration.

Before signing off, Duterte said he would prepare a speech thanking Filipinos who elected him.

“I really do not know what prompted me to do it,” Duterte said, remembering the day he filed his certificate of candidacy in November 2015.

Duterte’s retirement dream, however, may not be as peaceful as he thinks.

The International Criminal Court launched a probe into his landmark legacy – the so-called “war on drugs,” which has claimed the lives of at least 7,000 drug suspects in police operations. Human rights groups estimate that at least 30,000 were killed, including those killed by vigilantes inspired by the President’s violent rhetoric, as of 2019. This number has risen since then.

Where will Duterte go after he steps down? He said wherever God takes him, he would practice there how to sleep. – Rappler.com

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.