A day after saying that he wanted to run for vice president, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he’s ready to retire from public life “as a priest or an itinerant preacher.”
Speaking to reporters in Beijing on Monday night, Duterte clarified his statement he made about the vice presidency, saying: “It’s not a woman’s role, and if I do that, I will kiss goodbye to my political career. I will instead be a director in the Philippines, as a priest or an itinerant preacher.”
The Philippines is currently without a vice president. Duterte named his longtime trusted aide and bodyguard, Regina Lopez, as vice president-elect of the country on Sunday, shocking the nation and raising questions about the succession plan.
Duterte said that he would be more than happy to retire from politics, and wait for another time to run for president, saying “I’m not that old.”
When asked how Lopez could assume the role of vice president with Duterte said he would “just be the voice of the President,” saying the First Lady, Leni Robredo, was “very useless,” and that the man at the head of the administration “must speak for himself.”
He then added: “I’ve already expressed my willingness to step down as president, but for the vice president position. I will retire as a fisherman, and that would be best.
“You’re with me, you’re my plus one.”
Several days ago, Duterte appeared to enjoy teasing Lopez by calling her pregnant. He joked that he wanted to give her the role of vice president “because it could be a mother-in-law.”
This isn’t the first time that his whimsical statements have raised eyebrows. He famously has at times said things like “Shoot them, give me the videos.”
Over the past week, following the May elections, some have looked for ways to propel Lopez into the Cabinet, following her election win.
A professor of public law at the Manila’s Ramon Magsaysay College, Lopez was handpicked by Duterte as his main campaign advisor. She was also one of the highest-profile personalities who left the country following the recent deadly bomb blast in Manilla.
In the wake of her election victory, people rushed to Lopez’s official Facebook page to wish her good luck, and express their good wishes. The page started to flash a smiley face, with the following message: “Thank you for your support. We’ll all work together to make a great nation. My sincere thanks.”