Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gave a speech to local officials on Thursday in which he said he regretted running for the highest office in the land three years ago because he is weary of the constant criticism he has faced.
“I lost my enthusiasm to work. Actually, I deeply regretted it. I regretted my decision to run for president,” said the firebrand chief executive.
“I never lost an election. So since 1988, I was rising until I became President of this Republic. But if you ask me if I’m happy now, I won’t lie. Why would I? I do not have any obligation to you to lie, to tell a lie. I’m sick and tired of this,” he grumbled.
“That is why when people speculated Inday to run for president, I told her, ‘Don’t do it, ‘Day. You will not be able to control it. They will disrespect you, those sons of bitches,” Duterte continued.
“Inday” is a popular nickname for Duterte’s 41-year-old daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio, a lawyer and current mayor of Davao City on the island of Mindanao.
Sara is frequently mentioned as a possible successor to her father as president. Among her prospective opponents is Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, often praised by President Duterte.
The elder Duterte launched his political career in Davao City and served a total of four terms as mayor, handing the office to his daughter from 2010 to 2013 to work around term limits on the position. Both Dutertes were seen as highly successful mayors in Davao City and have strong populist followings. Sara Duterte is less likely than her father to throw a criminal suspect out of a helicopter, although she did punch a cop in the face once. Twice, actually.
The elder Duterte is now 74 years of age and rumored to be in poor health, although his office insists he is “well and good.” Opponents accuse him of plotting to stay in office beyond the mandatory expiration of his term in three years. Duterte insists he has no such plans and has authorized the Philippine military to shoot him if he remains in office after 2022. He has also floated the possibility of leaving office early.
In addition to serving as mayor of Davao City, Sara Duterte has worked closely with the presidential administration and has been seen as a kind of surrogate vice president or first lady during important events. She has promised to make up her mind about running for president by January 2021.
There is no official First Lady of the Philippines at present. Rodrigo Duterte is dating a much younger businesswoman named Honeylet Avanceña. Duterte publicly informed Avanceña in May that it is her “destiny” to become First Lady but also there are “no guarantees,” which is not really how destiny works.
Duterte’s most cynical critics believe he wants his daughter to take over as president to protect him from the legal ramifications of his controversial tenure, but his health is deteriorating so rapidly that he might not be able to hold out until she can put an effective national campaign together.