TIRED and frustrated by embedded corruption throughout the Philippines’ government, President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he was ready to resign from the top spot and prefers his replacement be a military junta over his vice president.
According to the PhilStar, Duterte said his failure to follow through on campaign promises to rid public agencies of graft was behind his desire to leave before his term ends in 2022.
“I am not angry with anybody. My chase against corrupt government officials seems to be endless, and it has contaminated almost all government departments and offices,” he said during a gathering of business leaders at the parliamentary palace.
“Graft is embedded, it is endemic and will always be part of the transactions in government… I do not think that I can fulfil my promise to the people. I said I will try to stop corruption, which I’m doing. But I cannot succeed even beyond my term,” he added.
His statement came a day after he fired 20 people, including colonels and a general, over accusations of fraud and graft in purchases of military medical supplies.
This is not the first time the controversial president has threatened to resign since coming to power in 2016.
The most recent followed a self-inflicted controversy when he kissed a woman on stage while in South Korea. Following an outcry from women’s rights groups, Duterte said he would step down if enough women signed a petition against him.
Others include, if allegations of corruption against him and his children were proven; if he managed to push through a constitutional shift to federalism; and even if someone could prove the existence of God.
His latest pronouncement has been met with a challenge from the opposition.
“Just do it!”, was the suggestion from the opposition party.
“The repeated threat of resignation also denigrates the presidency and the mandate given by the voters. The highest post in the land should not be treated like a club membership he can drop when he feels tired,” Liberal Party’s vice president Erin Tañada said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Our unsolicited advice: Just do it!”
While the resignation itself is perhaps not unusual for Duterte, the suggestion of a military junta is.
As well as threatening to resign, Duterte also said that he feels his vice president, Leni Rodredo, was not competent enough to take over the role – as is specified in the Constitution.
Instead, he suggested the military take control and assume its “proper place” as head of the country.
The president’s dislike of his second in command may be the only thing keeping him in power according to a presidential spokesperson.
“I think he is serious about stepping down if he believes in the capabilities of his successor. But he thinks that the vice president does not have the capability,” Harry Roque told reporters.
Elected to be Duterte’s number two, despite being from the opposition Liberal Party, Robredo occupies a unique role in Philippine politics. As the most visible and high-profile member of the opposition, she has recently stepped up her criticism of the president’s bombastic rhetoric and internationally criticised drugs war.