The Philippine Star : As he prepares to step down, Duterte calls for 'unity' behind successor Marcos

By Kristine Joy Patag | The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte urged the public to “unite” behind his successor president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. an echo of the latter’s campaign call — and called for no "politicking" to divide the country.

With less than three weeks in his term, Duterte reiterated the call for unity behind the new leaders of the country. “We have no room for politicking or actions that are divisive to the country. The people have spoken. We now have leaders,” he said partly in Filipino in a pre-recorded talk that aired Monday night.

Duterte said he will no longer say anything, but stressed that he does not what “politicking” or “just plain criticize this new administration. You do not do that.”

“President-elect Marcos would need the cooperation and help of everybody. We must give it to him. That’s democracy. That is how we operate,” the outgoing president.

But just as democracy has allowed the Filipino people to elect the leaders they want, the Philippine Constitution also states that “no law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press.” This includes protection of those who criticize the government or air their grievances.

Duterte also said his administration is “both ready and eager to hand over the reins of government to our incoming leaders,” as he assured a smooth and peaceful transition.

The outgoing president again reiterated his call for the public to support our new leaders.

“We have no room for politicking or go into a divisive exercise in whatever endeavors that you can think of just to divide the country. Let us not do it,” he added partly in Filipino.

Up until the last minute of the campaign season, Duterte remained adamant and did not endorse any presidential candidate, despite his own party, PDP-Laban, backing Marcos’ bid.

The tough-talking president had not hidden his disdain for Marcos Jr. in his past speeches, calling him a “weak leader” and “spoiled.” He even hinted of a candidate who was addicted to cocaine—an allegation that presidential bets, including Marcos, swiftly denied.

But as he prepares to “retire quietly,” Duterte said he only has one advocacy: To protect the next generation from drugs and criminality.

Marcos has earlier said he will pursue Duterte’s “war on drugs” campaign but would add a different approach to it, including prevention, educating the youth of the ill-effects of drugs and improving rehabilitation centers.

Marcos’ inauguration is set on June 30, as Duterte steps down from his post as chief executive noon of that day.

Duterte's daughter, Sara Duterte, meanwhile will sit as Marcos' vice and education secretary.