Duterte not closing doors on running as VP in 2022 — chief legal counsel

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Duterte not closing doors on running as VP in 2022 â chief legal counsel
President Rodrigo Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on May 13, 2021.
Presidential Photo / Robinson Niñal Jr.

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte would run for vice president next year if there is a strong clamor for him to do so, his chief legal counsel said.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said Duterte believes that something would happen if it is part of destiny and that one has no choice but to accept his fate.

"The president would only be open (to running for vice president) if he sees a clamor for it, if the clamor is strong," Panelo said on One News channel's current affairs program "The Chiefs" aired Tuesday night.

"I asked him. This was his answer: I leave it to God... (Those were) his exact words," he added.

Panelo and some supporters of the administration have been floating the "Duterte-Duterte" tandem for the 2022 polls, believing the opposition won't stand a chance if Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio guns for the presidency and the president decides to become her runningmate.

Duterte-Carpio previously said she might run for president in 2034, not next year.

Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque said last November that the president is very eager to finish his term and that he wants to come home in Davao City. The Duterte-Duterte tandem was just a "personal opinion" of Panelo, Roque added.

Panelo claimed Duterte did not want to join the presidential race in 2016 but was convinced to do so because of public clamor. He recalled an instance when Duterte was swarmed by supporters while he was about to attend a premiere of a movie in a mall. The event was held a week after the filing of candidacy in October 2015, Panelo added.  

"He (Duterte) did not file (a candidacy for president) in October and then a week after that, we went to a premiere (of a movie)... It takes only three minutes from the parking lot to the cinema... But it took us one hour and a half because he was swarmed by people and they did not want to let him go," the president's chief legal counsel said.

"He had a date with destiny. He had an appointment with history. Whether he likes it or not, he has to run and he will win," he added.

Panelo said the Supreme Court's decision that Sen. Grace Poe — one of the candidates in the 2016 presidential race — is a natural-born Filipino citizen, also promoted Duterte to run for president.

"He (Duterte) was angry... he said...'I'm going to run whether I win or not because they are f****** with the constitution,'" Panelo said.

During a forum of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce & Industry, Inc. last month, Roque said Duterte might pick his preferred successor among Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso, Sen. Manny Pacquiao and former senator Bongbong Marcos if Sara and his former aide Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go do not run for president next year. 

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