Duterte to remain relevant even without a gov’t post, experts say

Photo grabbed from the Presidential Communications Operations Office

PRESIDENT RODRIGO Duterte would remain relevant even after he steps down and retires from politics this year, a political analyst said.

“As with other past presidents, he could be an elder statesman and possibly provide advice to the next chief executive. But knowing PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte), I think he will just prefer to stay in Davao and maybe retire in politics for good,” Froilan Calilung, a political science instructor told The Flame.

Duterte withdrew his certificate of candidacy for senator last Dec. 14 supposedly to spend more time with his family after his term. 

Acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles has said the withdrawal would allow Duterte to focus on implementing the country’s pandemic response and safely reopening the economy.

The “macho-populist” and “no-nonsense” type of attitude Duterte projected resonated well with the people to the extent that the controversies tied to the drug war and the Pharmally deals had no significant impact on the public’s perception of him, Calilung said.

“Perhaps people actually still see that he is still very much in command and his populist sway, his charisma is still there,” he added.

Anthony Divinagracia, another political science professor, echoed Calilung’s views, saying Duterte remains popular as people could relate to him because of his “crass” conduct. 

“It somehow emboldens them or encourages them to be authentic in the daily conduct of their lives because Duterte stood as a role model,” Divinagracia said. 

A September 2021 Social Weather Survey indicated that 67 percent of 1,200 adult Filipinos are satisfied with the performance of the president, while 15 percent were dissatisfied and 11 percent are undecided.

Duterte's net satisfaction rating dropped to +52, 10 points below the +62 in June 2021, according to the survey.

Despite the decline, the rating was still classified as "very good," the SWS said.

Next president  key to avoiding ICC

Despite Duterte’s withdrawal from the senatorial race, he might still avoid the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigations should his political ally wins the presidency, political analysts said.

The key to Duterte's immunity from the ICC investigations on the alleged crimes against humanity tied to his drug war is to build an alliance with his successor, Divinagracia said.

“If the next president won’t be that protective or cooperative, as far as Duterte is concerned, that next president will just gladly hand him over to the ICC nang walang kahirap-hirap (without difficulty)," Divinagracia said. 

"Remember, for the ICC to have that custody over you, your government should consent to it," he added.

Calilung said Duterte may have backed out from the race as he is already sold to the idea that Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. would push through with his candidacy despite the threat of disqualification.

Duterte’s daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, a vice presidential candidate, could shield his father from the ICC probe if Marcos, her runningmate, wins the presidency, Calilung said.

“If ever Sara will win, Sara could be the ticket of President Duterte to Bongbong, because, as we know it… there’s already a kind of power deal that had been brokered even before,” Calilung added.

“I’ve already maintained the position that President Duterte is just playing the waiting game…based on the survey results, the lead of BBM (Bongbong Marcos) and Sara Duterte for the presidential and vice presidential positions are already quite convincing,” Calilung said. F

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