A man wears a mask with the name of President Duterte and his election campaign slogan on April 5, 2020, in Quezon city, Metro Manila, Philippines.

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Jean Franco, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines, said recent polls showing a drop in public support for Duterte may have spurred him to back out. “The second explanation is this is really part of a game of trying to strategize for the 2022 elections,” Franco told Nikkei Asia. “Of course, this opens the way for Sara” to run, she said.

A Social Weather Stations survey conducted in June and published Sept. 27 showed that 60% of respondents believe Duterte’s vice presidential bid violates the spirit of the constitution on term limits. Meanwhile, Duterte fell to second place in a vice presidential poll conducted by Pulse Asia from Sept. 6 to 11, behind Senate President Vicente Sotto, who led by 11 percentage points.

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