To avoid International Criminal Court prosecution for war crime, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has accepted his party’s nomination to run as vice-president in the next election.
Opposition sees this as an attempt to cling on to power by influencing his party’s choice of a politically weak Presidential candidate and then rule from the number two role.
The constitution bars him from seeking a second term in office but Duterte claimed that he is driven by love of his country while also musing publicly that as vice-president, he would be immune from prosecution by the International Criminal Court for ordering what he’s called “a war on drugs” that has killed thousands.
President Duterte had urged senator and close ally Christopher “Bong” Go to succeed him, but Go declined the party’s presidential nomination on Wednesday, saying that his “heart and mind are focused on serving people”.
While his party says it wants Mr Go to reconsider his decision, his rejection of the nomination has led to suggestions that President Duterte’s daughter, Sara Duterte Carpio, who currently leads in opinion poll to run on a joint ticket with her father.
Duterte came to power in 2016 on a campaign promise to crush crime and fix the country’s drugs crisis but critics say that he has encouraged police to engage in extrajudicial killings of suspects.
In June, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court applied to open a full investigation into drug war killings in the Philippines, saying crimes against humanity could have been committed.
An Amnesty International report found that more than 7,000 people were killed by police or unknown armed attackers in the first six months of Duterte’s presidency.