MANILA (PHILIPPINE DAILYINQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - With less than a year to go before the 2022 national elections, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said in an interview on a local news channel that he still does not see anyone deserving to succeed him.
Mr Duterte was asked who he thought could be his potential successor in the exclusive interview with Pastor Apollo Quiboloy of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ on the SMNI network on Tuesday (June 8).
"None, Pastor. Looking at the political horizon? Even you would know that," he answered. "Nobody. I see nobody who is deserving."
Mr Quiboloy then remarked: "So your six years is not enough, isn't that true? Those six years are really not enough because, you know, the sentiments of the whole Filipino nation is, like what I'm telling you now - it's not just from me - they saw how the country took off in your administration. That cannot be erased," Mr Quiboloy said.
"We know that your term is almost over, but it's like we are holding back the time: 'Not yet, because there has to be continuity," he added.
President Duterte, who assumed office in June 2016, is set to pass the baton as his term ends next year. Under Philippine law, a president can only be elected for a single six-year term.
His political party PDP-Laban has passed a resolution on May 31 enjoining him to choose a presidential candidate. It also urged him to run for vice-president in the 2022 elections.
But Mr Duterte expressed his reluctance to run as vice-president in the interview, saying he is now ready to retire.
"The situation is difficult because I will retire and I will choose the candidate for president, but if any of them wins, they will say 'it's only a way to perpetuate yourself in power'. So I resisted it," he told Pastor Quiboloy, speaking in Tagalog.
"I am ready to retire... We have Davao. I'll just be a boarder there at your prayer mountain. It's beautiful there," he said in jest.
Mr Duterte's remarks were contrary to a recent statement made by presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, who said that the President had already named five individuals whom he might endorse for the next elections.
They were his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, boxer-turned politician Senator Manny Pacquiao, Senator Christopher Go, and former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, who is the second child and only son of former president Ferdinand E. Marcos.
On the opposition side, there is Vice-President Leni Robredo, whom supporters have been urging to run for the presidency.
In terms of continuity, Mr Quiboloy also raised the possibility of a Duterte father-and-daughter team-up. But Mr Duterte told Mr Quiboloy he was against her daughter running.
"Last night, when I arrived, I talked with Inday [Duterte's nickname for his daughter]," Duterte said. "I really talked with her last night: 'Do not run. Do not ever, ever commit the mistake of running for the presidency.'"
His daughter still ranks high, however, in several recent surveys.
Mr Duterte-Carpio's meeting with various personalities - notably Mr Bongbong Marcos and his sister Senator Imee Marcos and to former Defence Secretary Gilbert Teodoro - also fuelled talks of her impending presidential bid.
In the end, Mr Duterte said that he could either remain neutral or endorse someone who would be running for 2022. He also contradicted his earlier statement - saying that there might be someone who could continue what he had started.
"I may publicly name them when the time comes," Mr Duterte said. "I do not mean to insult anybody, but it takes more than just what you show today. Whatever you may be able to do now, much more than that, the presidency is more than that."