President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed openness to running for vice president in the 2022 national elections in what could be a first for Philippine democracy. It's "not at all a bad idea," said the 76-year-old leader.
Former presidents Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo all won in local elections after leaving Malacanang, keeping themselves in the political sphere. Former President Fidel Ramos and the late mother and son Cory Aquino and Noynoy Aquino all retired as private citizens.
It will be an "unusual" move for Duterte, said University of Santo Tomas Department of Political Science Chair Dennis Coronacion, who noted that Malacañang ideally is the final stop for politicians.
"The Constitution is designed to prevent a president from perpetuating himself to power... If he runs and wins [as vice president] it will make him a step closer to the position he used to occupy. While there's no explicit prohibition, it goes against the design of the law," Coronacion said.
It could be likened to the case of Estrada, who ran for president again in 2010, on the argument that the prohibition on reelection applies only to the incumbent president. The 1987 charter states that "the President shall not be eligible for any re-election."
"No person who has succeeded as President and has served as such for more than four years shall be qualified for election to the same office at any time," the charter reads.
"The design of our Constitution is not meant to give another chance. This is why a sitting president cannot run for reelection," Coronacion said noting that the 1987 charter was framed to prevent abuses during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
In the case of Duterte, Coronacion said it would be better for him to retire from politics given that he has stayed as a popular leader throughout his term.
"It's safe to say that his anointed one--whoever he or she may be--would benefit from whatever popularity he will have left. Until now, he remains a popular leader," he said.
Here's what the five most recent past presidents did after leaving Malacañang:
1. Benigno 'Noynoy' Aquino III
Duterte's immediate predecessor returned to life as a private citizen after serving as the 15th president of the Philippines. He died on June 24 of kidney disease and was buried next to his democracy icon parents Ninoy and Cory.
2. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Arroyo served as vice president of Joseph Estrada and assumed the highest post in the country after the latter's ouster in January 2001. After her presidency in 2010, Arroyo ran and won as representative of Pampanga's 2nd district, and in 2018, became the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives. She retired from politics in 2019.
3. Joseph Estrada
Estrada was ousted by the People Power 2 in 2001 and was succeeded by his vice president Arroyo. In 2010, Estrada ran for president again but lost to Aquino. He served as mayor of Manila City from 2013 to 2019, and was succeeded by incumbent Isko Moreno.
4. Fidel V. Ramos
Ramos is now the oldest living Philippine president at the age of 96. Since stepping down from power in 1998, Ramos has restricted himself from seeking an elected post, opting to serve as an adviser in the administrations that followed his.
5. Cory Aquino
Aquino returned to life as a private citizen after her presidency but remained active in voicing her opinions on government policies and developments in the Philippine political scene.
In 2009, Aquino died after a bout with colon cancer. Her death catapulted her only son Noynoy to the presidency in 2010.