“The President shall not be eligible for any re-election. No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time.”

It’s a year before the 2022 national elections, and the lead-up, as always, is ugly. It’s particularly hideous this time around because 76-year-old President Duterte, despite his previous grumblings of job fatigue and apparent deteriorating health, is in the mood for an impending reboot.

Given Mr. Duterte’s crassness and penchant for doublespeak and shock tactics, his assertions of running for vice-president during a questionable PTV-4-covered PDP-Laban assembly on July 17 and in other previous occasions are disturbing, to say the least.

Although it’s getting more and more difficult to take the President’s statements seriously, his idea of running for the vice presidency insults the spirit of the 1987 Constitution—it’s taking advantage of a loophole to remain in power, the very thing the charter aims to prevent. The vice presidency is obviously his backdoor for a return to Malacañang, as if his miserable six years weren’t enough. It not only insults the spirit of the law, but further exposes his desire to stay in power and warped ethical disposition.

Sabi ng batas na kung presidente ka, bise presidente ka, may immunity ka, e di tatakbo na lang ako ng bise presidente. And after that tatakbo uli ako ng bise presidente at bise presidente at bise presidente,” the 76-year-old said to the applause of his partymates—enablers who surely just wants a seat on the Duterte bandwagon, which they fail to see is rusting and incapable.

Even then, Duterte’s statement was an indirect admission that he’s running away from something.

Definitely, the possibility of the International Criminal Court (ICC) starting a probe on his deadly drug war has made him feel threatened, despite his spokesman, Harry Roque, belittling former ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s report for having media sources, which he said would just be laughed at if presented to court.

According to Bensouda, there was “reasonable basis” to believe that a crime against humanity had been committed in the Philippines between July 1, 2016 and March 16, 2019 in the context of Duterte’s deadly campaign against drugs. After all, rights abuses under Duterte’s term were his government’s worst kept secret.

Even if belched out of sarcasm, his plan to avoid possible lawsuits by becoming vice-president—as he has flagrantly stated—merely bastardizes the Constitution more than it glazes over his reputation.  Even Christian Monsod, one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution, said Duterte seeking the second-highest executive post could be used as a palusot or a backdoor to the presidency.

It also makes more sense now why Mr. Duterte has been persistently endorsing his loyal and trusted aide of 23 years (and still counting!), Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, for the presidency next year. He “shall not be eligible for any re-election,” but he can simply make a willing stooge out of the current Senate novice, who’s never really spoken sense without notes and coaching from his staff (who are paid for by taxpayer money), or ever appeared beneficial and relevant beyond three feet off Duterte’s side and arse. More laughably, the solon’s only claim to relevance these days is as an inside-the-camera-frame prop in nationally-televised weekly addresses of Duterte and occasional presidential big bike and eating sardinas antics at the Palace.

Mr. Duterte, who completed a last-minute backdoor play off a handover from barangay captain-turned-presidential-candidate Martin Diño in 2016 to eventually become President, stated last January he wouldn’t take a term extension even if it was offered to him in a silver platter. Perhaps he prefers simply a dish – from a give-and-go with assist specialist Bong Go.

And then, of course, there’s his lovely daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio, who’s leading in the early presidential surveys despite her usual deflections of curiosities on her presidential intentions.

Rodrigo, a lovely father of four, recently reiterated his dissent in the possible presidential bid of his daughter, saying he did not want her to suffer the “vagaries of politics.” It’s very sweet for Duterte, who often spouts profane-laden rants during his interviews and addresses, and who has time and again made sexist remarks against his political opponents, to shield his daughter from people like himself.

Sara’s too lovely and too fragile for the job, so the caring possible vice-president-to-be can spare her of all the hard and dirty work in case both of them get elected. As Monsod said: “Kung anak niya ‘yung maging presidente, edi ang sasabihin lang niya, ‘o, bumababa ka na, ako na magpe-presidente.’”

But considering she has inherited and acquired a lot from her father (or she’s just a chip off the old block), it wouldn’t actually matter who’d act as president. Minus the large nose and preference for checkered polos, Sara is basically Rodrigo: iron fisted, vulgar and brazen.

For someone who hates the Constitution and once likened it to toilet paper, he sure knows its loopholes and nitty-gritty. But it seems that he does not recognize that the charter was, in the first place, written in the aftermath of the dictatorship of his idol, Ferdinand Marcos, when the Filipinos were sick of a tyrannous government and wanted fairness, protection and rights—and tyrants to stay out of power.


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