Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte quitting politics and dropping out of election

Philippine's controversial President Rodrigo Duterte is retiring from politics and has announced he's backing out of the country's upcoming election.

Duterte has governed the country for five years and in that time became notorious around the world for his brutal war on drugs.

The populist also made headlines for offensive remarks about the Pope and Barack Obama.

So who is Rodrigo Duterte and what has his impact been?

Duterte's brutal 'war on drugs'

The populist president swept into power in 2016 on the promise to eradicate drugs and crime from the Philippines.

What ensued was a brutal crackdown that saw police and vigilantes accused of rights abuses in killing thousands of people while following orders to eradicate illegal drugs in society.

After condemnation of the policy by the EU in September 2016, Duterte issued a brief foul-mouthed response to government officials: "I read the condemnation of the EU against me. I will tell them, 'f*** you.' You're doing it in atonement for your sins."

Demonstrators burn an effigy of Rodrigo Duterte Credit: AP

Later in his tenure Duterte even boasted to having killed criminal suspects personally to show the police how it's done.

The politician said he used to cruise the streets of the southern city of Davao on a motorbike "looking for trouble".

“Killings used to happen in police encounters. And I know it, because in Davao I used to do it personally. Just to show to the guys [police officers] that if I can do it, why can’t you.”

Duterte's handling of the Covid crisis

Having condoned the killing of thousands of people in his war on drugs, Duterte was equally brutal in his handling of the Covid pandemic.

The president sanctioned the use of lethal force to keep his country of 100 million people in lockdown when the crisis hit in 2020.

Anyone caught violating quarantine - outside when they shouldn’t be or in a community which isn’t their own - faces being shot by police or soldiers who patrolled the streets.

Human rights organisations condemned such abuse of power and starvation became a real threat for those living in the country, too fearful to step outside to get food.

In May 2020 ITV News Asia Correspondent Debi Edward reported on the growing Covid crisis in the Philippines

A tenure of foul-mouthed rants

Duterte made headlines around the world for his lack of statesman-like manners.

Shortly before he was elected, the politician called Pope Francis a "son of a w****". Christianity is the dominant religion in the Philippines and as of 2013 the country has the world's third largest Roman Catholic population.

International relations were strained from early into Duterte's presidency after he called then-US President Barack Obama "son of a w****".

The pair had been due to meet, with Obama expected to grill Duterte on human rights abuses, but the White House cancelled the meeting.

Duterte later vowed never to curse again - after "hearing a voice from God".

The leader claimed to have changed his ways after a experiencing an epiphany on a flight home from Japan.

He claimed to have heard a voice that said: "If you don't stop epithets, I will bring this plane down now.

"And I said, 'Who is this?' So, of course, 'it's God,'" he said.