Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced Saturday that he will not run for vice president in the 2022 elections and will retire from politics.
"Today, I announce my retirement from politics," Duterte, 76, told journalists at the site of the Commission on Elections in Metro Manila.
On his surprise announcement, Duterte said that he is heeding the Filipinos' "overwhelming sentiment" for him to quit politics.
"The universal sentiment of the Filipinos ... is that I am not qualified. It would be a violation of the constitution to circumvent the law, the spirit of the constitution," Duterte said, adding that he would act "in obedience to the will of the people."
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that Duterte "would spend the remainder of his term guiding the country towards post-COVID-19 recovery."
Moreover, to ensure the legacy of his programs and projects and the continuity of his reform initiatives, Roque added Duterte "would pro-actively campaign for his candidates and make sure that the conduct of the coming 2022 elections would be free, honest, peaceful and credible."
Duterte's term ends on June 30, 2022.
Duterte was at the poll body on Saturday in Metro Manila to accompany his former longtime aide and Senator Christopher Go, 47, who filed his certificate of candidacy for vice president.
Duterte's PDP-Laban faction had nominated him and Go for vice president and president, respectively. Duterte initially accepted the ruling party's nomination but Go declined.
Duterte was elected the Philippine president in May 2016 elections. The constitution limits Philippine presidents to a single six-year term.
Candidates for the 2022 elections could file their certificate of candidacy from Oct. 1 to Oct. 8. Philippine boxing icon and Senator Manny Pacquiao on Friday officially filed his certificate of candidacy for president, becoming the first presidential aspirant to do so.
The elections are scheduled to be held on May 9, 2022. According to the Philippine law, the vice president is elected separately from the president. The vice president takes over the presidency if the president passes away or is incapacitated in office.