Duterte pulls out from VP race, sets sight on US visit

PRESIDENT DUTERTE following his vaccination by Health Secretary Francisco Duque. He plans a US trip to thank US for support in the fight vs COVID-19.

By Claire Morales True

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has announced his retirement from politics and, as a proof, he withdrew his certificate of nomination for vice president, instead pushing Sen. Christopher Lawrence Go for the post.

At the same time, Duterte announced that he wants to visit the United States to thank US officials for supporting the fight against Covid-19 in the Philippines.

At press time, Malacañang is still waiting for the final word on the supposed US trip of Duterte,  said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

Roque said he could neither confirm nor deny Duterte’s plan to visit the US.

“Iyong mga bagay na iyan ay talagang diplomasya po iyan, so hintayin na lang po natin kung magkakaroon ng kasunduan kasi kinakailangan din ng kasunduan (Matters like that involve diplomacy so let’s wait if there will be an agreement because there should be an agreement first),” he said.

In a public address last Thursday, Duterte said he wanted to go to the US to personally thank their government for their donation of vaccines against Covid-19.

Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said the US was donating 5 million more Covid-19 vaccine doses for the Philippines on top of the 9 million doses previously donated.

“Ang bait ng America. Baka pupunta ako doon (America is so generous. I might go there) just to thank the American government and the people,” he said.

Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez earlier confirmed that the US will provide 5.3 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) also vowed to allocate an additional US$11.3 million assistance to support the country’s vaccine rollout efforts.

Duterte said he will be retiring from politics after his term as president to “give way to a new set of leaders.”

Duterte, who first announced on Saturday his decision to withdraw from the vice presidential race in the upcoming elections, said his decision is based on what people want.

“Last Saturday, respecting the will of the people, who after all placed me in the presidency several years ago, I announced my retirement from politics after my term as president,” he said.

“I withdrew all my vice presidential bid for next year’s election after giving serious thought on the sentiment of the Filipino people, expressed by different surveys, forums, caucuses and meetings.”

He added that it is time for new leaders to step up, as he hopes for his projects and programs to continue in the next administration.At the same time, Duterte vowed to prepare for his defense for the full-blown investigation that will be conducted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) into the crimes against humanity allegedly committed in his administration’s drug war.

He made the remark acknowledging how the public wanted him to retire from politics.

Tanggap ko ang husga ng taongbayan. Simple lang, ayaw nila ako maglaro pa ng politka. Gusto nila umuwi na ako sa Davao at maghintay ako sa maraming dada ng dada diyan. I will prepare for my defense na yung ICC na ‘yan (I accept the judgment of the people. It’s simple, they don’t want me to play politics. They want me to return to Davao and wait for people to talk. I will prepare for my defense for the ICC),” he said in a late night public address.

He, however, warned the ICC against fabricating evidence against him.

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