Philippines' Duterte says women not fit to be president amid speculation his daughter could succeed him

Our Foreign Staff
·3 min read
Duterte and his daughter arriving at an event - Carl Court/Pool via Reuters
Duterte and his daughter arriving at an event - Carl Court/Pool via Reuters

Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday declared that the presidency was no job for a woman because of their emotional differences to men, and dismissed speculation that his daughter would succeed him next year.

"My daughter is not running. I have told Inday not to run because I pity (her) knowing she will have to go through what I am going through," Mr Duterte said at the launch of a highway project, referring to his daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio by her nickname.

"This is not for women. You know, the emotional set-up of a woman and a man is totally different. You will become a fool here. So... that is the sad story."

The Philippines has had two female presidents, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Corazon Aquino.

Mr Duterte, 75, is notorious for comments often deemed offensive, sexist and misogynistic, but his office typically calls his remarks harmless jokes. He remains hugely popular among female voters in the Philippines.

Mrs Duterte-Carpio , 42, who succeeded her father as mayor of Davao City, came top in a recent opinion poll that asked the public to choose a preferred candidate from a list of possible contenders for the 2022 elections. Two other women, Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Grace Poe, were hypothetical contenders.

Responding to Mr Duterte's remarks, Cristina Palabay of human rights group Karapatan said women are as capable as men in any job. "What matters most ... is if the interests of the poor majority are upheld," she said.

Mrs Duterte-Carpio has cultivated an image as a reluctant successor as mayor of Davao, where she is hugely popular for showing the same tough, no-nonsense character as her father, who ran the city for two decades and has openly told police to kill criminals, if they resist arrest.

She is no stranger to presidential duties, serving as first lady because of her father's annulled marriage.

Mrs Duterte-Carpio on Thursday told Reuters she had informed her father she did not intend to run and would not be a late entry as he was six years ago.

"I am not being coy nor am I doing a 'last-minute'," Mrs Duterte-Carpio said in a text message. "If the whole country does not want to believe (this) then I can't do anything about it. Not everyone wants to be president. I am one of them."

She added: "I thank all of them for their trust and confidence in what I can do but my refusal to run for president is not the end of the world."

Akbayan Partylist, a leftwing group of lawmakers, said in a statement on Friday a Duterte dynasty would mean a whitewash of the president's "incompetent, corrupt and murderous malgovernance".

"Sara Duterte should not run for president. But it's not because she is a woman ... Sara as president will not exact accountability from her father over his high crimes against the people," it said. (Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Martin Petty and Alexandra Hudson)