MANILA - After several rumors that he is changing his mind, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte announced Monday - the first day of filing of certificates of candidacy - that he will not run for president in the 2016 election. In a press briefing, Duterte apologized to the people who have "spent much and worked hard and long" to support him as he went around the country to promote his campaign for a change to a federal form of government. "There was no ambition for me to aspire for the presidency. The country does not need me and I find no need for it. I guess it is fate that wills that our long journey together should end this way," he said.
The tough-talking mayor acknowledged that many of his supporters have asked him to run for the highest post in the land "because that is the destiny that awaits me." He said that instead of seeking the presidency, he would rather retire from politics at the end of his term in 2016. "I believe my destiny is to end years and years of public life in the service of Davao City and every Davaoeno. Thus, if Inday Sara agrees to run for mayor, I will retire at the end of my term in 2016. If she does not, the option to run again for mayor is on the table," he said. "When all is said in the wake of this decision, perhaps we can find comfort in the thought this indeed - this is indeed a beautiful day to end a wild dream. God bless the Philippines, God bless us all." The filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the 2016 polls is from October 12 to 16. Duterte's political adviser, Lito Banayo, earlier debunked rumors that Duterte will run for president after publicly announcing that he will not seek the presidency and will retire from public office after his term as mayor of Davao City. Duterte himself has repeatedly said that he finds the job of a president too difficult. "Wala akong ambition, wala akong motivation. But there are people I said who'd spend their money na nalaman ko ngayon," he added. Thousands of supporters also gathered in Luneta last September 26 in a bid to convince the mayor to run for the country's top post. Two vice presidential candidates, Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., have also separately met with Duterte in the hopes of forming a tandem with him for the 2016 elections. PDP-Laban president, Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, has said the party prefers Cayetano as Duterte's running mate. Even Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos has said she remains hopeful that Duterte will run for president in 2016, with her brother, Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., as his running mate. "Kay Mayor Duterte, tingnan natin, kasi si Mayor mas pakipot pa kesa sa babae," the governor said with a laugh. With a report by Hermel Tocmo, ABS-CBN Davao