President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (File photo)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte is going to enjoy the privileges of being a private citizen and spend more time with his family when his term ends in June 30, 2022 Malacañang said on Wednesday.

Acting Presidential Spokesperson, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Duterte’s withdrawal from the senatorial race is a “personal decision”, especially since he has spent four decades of his life in public service.

“It’s really to spend time with his family after more than four decades ng serbisyo sa taumbayan (of service to his countrymen). As prosecutor all the way up to being mayor, vice mayor, a member of Congress, back to vice mayor then mayor, then now, as president of the Republic of the Philippines – now he wants to spend time, more time with his family,” he said in a Palace press briefing.

Nograles admitted that there are supporters still convincing him to run for public office. However, he said Duterte has made up his mind.

“Even after he filed, di ba maraming mga kandidato (a lot of candidates), political parties are already endorsing him for Senate. So, marami talaga, nandoon iyong (there are a lot, there’s the) pressure na gusto nila magpatuloy si Pangulong Duterte (that they like President Duterte to continue) but at the end of the day, it is always personal choice for any who runs or files candidacy in whatever position,” he added.

Aside from wanting to spend more time with family, Nograles said backing out from the senatorial race will allow Duterte to prioritize the country’s Covid-19 response.

“Dahil po hindi na siya kandidato (Because he is no longer a candidate) for any position this coming elections, he can focus more on the Covid response, he can focus more on safely reopening our economy, he can focus more on continuing if not even stepping up more of the public service,” he said.

He said Duterte will also ensure a “peaceful, transparent, and fair” national and local elections in May 2022.

Still dominant

Meanwhile, Nograles expressed optimism that the ruling Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban (PDP-Laban) remains supportive of Duterte’s decision to withdraw his certificate of candidacy (COC) for senator.

“Yung (The) PDP-Laban will continue to support President Rodrigo Duterte in this decision and in whatever decisions that he will have in terms of his governance, in terms of public service, all the way up to the end of his term as president, PDP-Laban will continue to stand by the President,” he said.

Despite the withdrawals of Duterte and Senator Christopher "Bong" Go from their respective 2022 election bids, Nograles said he believes the PDP-Laban will remain a dominant political party.

“And PDP-Laban will also continue to be the dominant political party, based on law and jurisprudence, for the 2022 national and local elections,” he added.

Duterte's withdrawal comes after his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte endorsed his candidacy for the Senate under her own party, Lakas–Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD).

Sara, who is currently running as vice president, earlier said she is supportive of her father's decision to withdraw from the senatorial race. (PNA)