Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will run for vice president in next year's elections, his party said yesterday, after months of speculation about whether he would seek to stay in power. Duterte, who was elected to the top job in 2016 and is barred under the constitution from seeking another term, has previously flagged the possibility of contesting the country's second-highest office. "President Rodrigo Roa Duterte agreed to make the sacrifice and heed the clamor of the people, and accepted the endorsement of the PDP Laban Party for him to run as vice president in the 2022 national elections," the party said in a statement.

The party is also expected to endorse Duterte's top aide, Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go, to be their presidential candidate. Duterte has not said publicly yet that he will run, but PDP-Laban president Alfonso Cusi told AFP: "He confirmed he is running for VP in 2022." The vice president and president are elected separately in the Philippines, with the former assuming the top job if the latter dies, becomes incapacitated, or resigns while in office.

During his term Duterte has waged a brutal war against drug users and dealers that rights groups say has killed tens of thousands of people. International Criminal Court prosecutors are seeking to launch a full-blown investigation into the anti-narcotics crackdown, raising the stakes for next year's elections. Duterte's daughter, Sara, is widely expected to contest the presidency and, if she were to win, could help protect her father from criminal charges. Recent polls show the Davao city mayor-the same position her father held before he took power-with the most voter support.

Duterte told a meeting of party officials last month that he was "seriously thinking of running for vice president". But he expressed concern that a political foe could win the presidency, rendering him useless for the next six years. "The president that will win must be a friend of mine (with) whom I can work with," Duterte said.

The deadline for registering as a candidate for next year's elections is October 8. A sitting president has never before made a bid for the vice presidency in the Philippines. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque told reporters that Duterte would make a televised address later where he is expected to discuss the PDP-Laban announcement. - AFP