By Azer Parrocha
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (File photo)
MANILA – As President Rodrigo Roa Duterte marks his 77th birthday on Monday (March 28), his birthday wish is for “clean, fair, and honest” elections come May 9.
“His birthday wish for this year is to have a clean, fair, and honest election in May 2022, as he has time and again underscored the importance of a peaceful transfer of power as part of his enduring legacy,” Acting presidential spokesperson Martin Andanar said in a press statement.
During the US-led Summit for Democracy on Dec. 10, 2021, Duterte said it would be “his highest honor” to turn over the reins of power to his successor knowing that he did his best to serve the Filipino nation.
Last month, Duterte said he had begun packing up his belongings in Malacañang and was looking forward to turning over the leadership of the country to his successor in June.
The fate of national and local candidates will be decided by over 65 million Filipinos who are expected to cast their votes on May 9. This will be the first polls that will be held under pandemic conditions.
Meanwhile, Andanar wished Duterte good health in both mind and body.
“Our prayer for the Almighty is to continue giving the President good physical and mental health in the years to come so he may carry on serving the interest of and bringing betterment to the lives of Filipinos,” he said.
He thanked Duterte for his “strong and decisive leadership” and “genuine compassion” for every Filipino, noting that these qualities have resulted in “positive and meaningful change” to Filipinos.
Andanar said Duterte will celebrate his last birthday as the country’s president the same way he marked the occasion on his first birthday as chief executive.
“President Duterte will mark the occasion with a simple and quiet celebration in Davao City, in line with his family’s tradition,” he said.
Duterte has always celebrated his birthday with family in Davao City except for his 75th birthday.
On March 28, 2020, Duterte did not have the chance to fly to his hometown due to Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine imposed to contain the spread of the pandemic.
Duterte was born in Maasin, Southern Leyte, on March 28, 1945.
At the age of 71, Duterte became the oldest person ever elected to the Philippine presidency in 2016. (PNA)