"It would be now or never for the President’s daughter."
The President of the Philippines has, on a number of public occasions, either advised or ordered - depending on Rodrigo Duterte’s mood at the time - his elder daughter, the mayor of Davao City, to not seek the Presidency in the May 2022 election. Whether Sara Duterte will heed her father’s advice/order and run or not run for the office that her father has held for the last four and a half years is the key determinant of the profile of next year’s polls.
The present situation in post-World War II Philippine history, in which a capable-of-succeeding presidential offspring, has been a woman. In the past, there have been Sergio Osmena III, Tomas Quirino, Gerardo Roxas, Ramon Magsaysay Jr., and Benigno Aquino III. Mayor Sara Duterte is the first female presidential offspring capable of being a credible nominee as a presidential candidate.
Going for Sara Duterte, in addition to her newly acquired presidential pedigree, are her experience as a government executive and her first-rate educational background. With the means available to her grandparents - her paternal grandfather was President Diosdado Macapagal’s Secretary of General Services - and parents, Sara Duterte was able to attend good schools; she obtained her law degree from Ateneo de Manila University. The Davao City mayorship has become part of Sara Duterte’s DNA. For the last three decades, she has been at the side of the Davao City mayor’s office or has been mayor herself. That she has been a hands-on chief executive is best memorialized by the famous picture of her slapping a city sheriff for attempting to serve a warrant of arrest on one of the citizens of the nation's third largest city.
Prior to the 2019 election, Sara Duterte, in a display of political muscle-flexing, broke away from the political party that brought her father to power - Partida ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban - and founded her own party, HNP (Hugpong ng Pagbabago) With her father in power, Sara Duterte’s new party was able to deliver a nearly clean sweep of the 12 senatorial seats at stake.
Thus far, Sara Duterte has been coy about her near-term political plans, saying only that her new party will be there to support its candidates in the May 2022 election. But I think that, notwithstanding her father’s frequently stated wish or order, Davao City’s mayor will be a candidate for President of the Philippines in next year’s election. The following are my reasons for thinking so.
The first reason is hubris. With her party’s enormous success in the 2019 election is aided unquestionably, by its alliance with PDP-Laban - Sara Duterte is feeling powerful, even invincible.
Right now she is thinking that next year her party can field a Sara Duterte- headed slate that will repeat its 2019 victory. Certainly, with all the resources at the disposal of HNP/PDP-laban-HNP, Sara Duterte will be going into the 2022 hustings with the knowledge that finances will not be a problem.
Another reason for the likelihood of a Sara Duterte candidacy for president next year is the feeling she undoubtedly will have that it will be 2022 or never. Next year, she will be the daughter of the nation’s most powerful citizen and chief executive of a major city; in 2028 she will be the daughter of a former President of the Philippines and mayor - if she still is such an official by then - of Davao City.
Sara Duterte’s favorite song these days may well be Elvis Presley’s “It’s Now or Never.”
Another reason for a 2022 Sara Duterte run for the presidency would be a pleasure to establish a father-to-daughter-or-son presidential lineage. If Diosdado Macapagal could be succeeded by his daughter Gloria and Corazon Aquino could be succeeded by her son Benigno III, why not a father-to-daughter Duterte succession? The idea must be so alluring to the mayor of Davao City.
A final reason for a Sara Duterte run next year could well be a desire to protect the legacy of her father and help protect Rodrigo Duterte from the post-presidency attacks, domestic and foreign, to which he is likely to be subjected. Attorney Sara Duterte must protect her dad, mustn’t she? What better way to ensure that than as his successor.
For all these reasons, I think Mayor Sara Duterte is likely to be a presidential candidate next year.