Duterte’s chosen successor leaves Philippine presidential race

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Manila (AFP) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s chosen successor on Tuesday announced his withdrawal from the 2022 presidential race, saying it was “not yet my time”.

Senator Christopher Go, a close associate of the president, entered the competition for the country’s highest office two days before the November 15 deadline, having previously registered for the run for vice president.

His sudden exit narrows the field of candidates vying to replace Duterte, who is constitutionally prohibited from running for a second six-year term. He is a candidate for the Senate.

“My family doesn’t want it either, so I thought maybe it wasn’t my time yet,” Go told reporters.

Go said his decision to step down was also aimed at avoiding causing “more trouble” for Duterte, whom he said he loved “more than as a father.”

“I remain loyal to him and promise to be with him forever,” Go said.

“Over the past few days, I have realized that my heart and my mind are contradicting my own actions.”

Most analysts had given Go little chance of succeeding in the May election, despite being the candidate most likely to protect Duterte from criminal charges in the Philippines and an International Criminal Court investigation into his murderous war on drugs.

“From the start he launched a lukewarm campaign and it is very evident that he has just been pushed into this post by President Duterte,” said Jean Franco, professor of political science at the University of the Philippines.

The son and namesake of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos has a considerable lead in the race, according to a recent poll by respected polling agency Social Weather Stations.

Marcos Jr was followed by Duterte’s outgoing vice president and critic Leni Robredo, famous mayor Francisco Domagoso and great boxer Manny Pacquiao.

Duterte was an ally of the controversial Marcos family, who went into exile in the United States after the patriarch’s humiliating fall in 1986.

But recently, Duterte publicly criticized Marcos Jr, describing him as a “weak leader … struggling with baggage.”

Sara Duterte, his daughter, was widely expected as a presidential candidate.

But she applied for the vice-presidency, a position that holds very little power, and formed an alliance with Marcos Jr.

Going out of the “tight election race” could strengthen the “political strength” of Marcos Jr and Sara, Franco said.

But she doubted that Duterte would support Marcos Jr for his work.

Go’s move also comes after a tumultuous week in which many of the top presidential and vice-presidential candidates underwent drug tests after Duterte accused an anonymous candidate of snorting drugs. cocaine.