Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he is backing out of an announced plan to run for vice president in next year's elections and will retire from politics after his term ends.
Duterte announced the surprise decision Saturday after accompanying his former longtime aide, Sen. Bong Go, who instead filed his own candidacy for the vice presidency at a Commission on Elections center.
'The overwhelming... sentiment of the Filipinos is that I am not qualified and it would be a violation of the constitution to circumvent the law, the spirit of the constitution' to run for the vice presidency, Duterte said.
'Today I announce my retirement from politics.'
His decision potentially paving the way for his daughter to contest the country's highest office.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he is backing out of an announced plan to run for vice president in next year's elections and will retire from politics after his term ends
Duterte, who polls show remains almost as popular as when he was swept to victory in 2016 on a promise to rid the country of drugs, is constitutionally barred from seeking a second term.
The authoritarian firebrand declared in August he would contest the vice presidency in the next election - a move critics said was a smokescreen and motivated by fear that could face criminal charges after leaving office.
Duterte made the surprise announcement at the venue where he was expected to register his candidacy. He did not specify when he would leave politics.
The tough-talking leader has not yet announced his preferred successor, but many expect it will be his daughter, Sara, who has been the front runner in recent polls.
She would likely protect Duterte from criminal charges in the Philippines, and International Criminal Court prosecutors probing his deadly drug war, which rights groups estimate has killed tens of thousands of people.
But the mayor of the southern city of Davao - a position held by her father before he became president - has said she would not run if Duterte sought the vice presidency.
Philippine presidents are limited by the constitution to a single six-year term and opponents had said they would question the legality of Duterte's announced vice presidential run before the Supreme Court.
Duterte took office in 2016 and launched a crackdown on illegal drugs that left more than 6,000 mostly petty suspects dead and alarmed Western governments and human rights groups. The International Criminal Court is investigating the killings.
International Criminal Court judges on Wednesday authorised an investigation into the Philippines' deadly 'war on drugs' campaign under Rodrigo Duterte, saying the crackdown 'cannot be seen as a legitimate law enforcement operation'
ICC judges authorized an investigation into the Philippines' deadly 'war on drugs' campaign, saying last month the crackdown 'cannot be seen as a legitimate law enforcement operation.'
ICC judges gave the authorisation on September 15 after prosecutor Fatou Bensouda sought their permission to investigate the deadly government campaign.
She said that a preliminary probe she began in February 2018 found 'a reasonable basis to believe that the crime against humanity of murder has been committed' in the Philippines between July 1, 2016 and March 16, 2019 under Duterte.
In a written decision, judges who considered Bensouda's request found