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Philippines: Duterte’s Daughter Sara Announces Bid For Vice President

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By Camille Elemia and Aie Balagtas See

The daughter of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte filed papers Saturday to run for vice president in the 2022 general election, ending speculation she would seek the country’s highest office, but prompting the son of a longtime dictator to embrace her as a potential running mate.  

Immediately after Sara Duterte-Carpio, the popular mayor of Davao City, announced her plan, the party of Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who is contesting next year’s presidential election, said it was adopting her as his running mate. Her father the president, who cannot seek re-election under the constitution, then announced his own plan to seek the nation’s second-highest office.

“This is to confirm that Mayor Inday Sara Duterte, through her representative, has filed her certificate of candidacy for vice president under Lakas-CMD,” her spokeswoman, Christina Frasco, told BenarNews. 

Saturday’s announcement was the culmination of political activities that included talks between Duterte-Carpio and Marcos Jr., who filed his papers for president last month.  On Saturday, Marcos Jr.’s camp, the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, filed a resolution that Duterte was “hereby adopted” as the party’s candidate for vice president.

The Marcos family’s support helped Rodrigo Duterte win the presidency in 2016, when Marcos Jr. ran for vice president but lost.

Ferdinand Marcos Sr. ruled the Philippines for two decades, mostly under martial law. A “people power” revolt ended his regime in 1986, sending him into exile in Hawaii where he died three years later.

Renato Reyes Jr., secretary general of Bayan, or the New Patriotic Alliance, a group of left-leaning organizations in the Philippines, challenged the potential alliance of Philippine political dynasties.

“The Marcos-Duterte tandem is peak elite politics. It has the most self-serving aims: a Marcos restoration and the protection of outgoing president Rodrigo Duterte. The tandem serves only the narrow interests of their dynastic families. We will resist,” he tweeted.

In the Philippines, the president and vice president are elected separately, as part of government checks and balances. President Duterte’s vice president is Leni Robredo, who beat Marcos in 2016 and is the main opposition coalition presidential candidate for the May 9, 2022, election.

Robredo is considered the antithesis of President Duterte, who is facing an investigation by the International Criminal Court for his anti-drug campaign that has killed thousands of suspected drug dealers and addicts since he took office in 2016.

Duterte-Carpio, 43, has led early presidential preference surveys but did not file for a national post in October, choosing instead to seek re-election as mayor. 

On Nov. 9, she withdrew that candidacy and joined the Lakas-CMD party, while her younger brother, Sebastian, withdrew his own re-election bid for vice mayor. He is a likely replacement for his sister in the mayor’s race. 

Also on Saturday, President Duterte’s most trusted aide, Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go filed as a substitute candidate for president representing the ruling party PDP-Laban after initially filing to run for vice president. While Marcos’ party has announced Duterte-Carpio as its VP pick, she could decide to run as Go’s running mate. 

Similar move in 2016

Adding to the political fray on Saturday was an announcement by presidential aide Martin Andanar that the elder Duterte will file paperwork to run for vice president next year. This is a turnaround from his statement in October that he would retire from politics after his term ends. 

“The president will be here at the Comelec office on Monday to file his candidacy for vice president,” Andanar told reporters referring to the Commission on Elections. 

Duterte-Carpio previously said she would not run for one of the top two offices if her father decided to run for vice president.

The actions of Duterte-Carpio and Go are reminiscent of President Duterte’s political move during his 2016 campaign when he filed for substitution at the last minute to run for president after previously declaring he would seek re-election as mayor in the family’s home Davao City. 

On Saturday, senator and former boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, who is running for president, welcomed the announcement.

“Everyone has the right to run, and/or choose to be picked to run,” he told reporters in central Cebu city where he was attending a private function. “At the end of the day, the public will have to choose.” 

Pacquiao and President Duterte reconnected last week after a falling out over accusations by the ex-boxer of corruption in the government.

On Saturday, he said he would not back down on calls to clean the government of errant and corrupt officials. 

Jeoffrey Maitem and Dennis Jay Santos in Davao, Philippines, contributed to this report.

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