Could Duterte be the Liberal Party’s wild card bet?

Edwin G. Espejo
Could Duterte be the Liberal Party’s wild card bet?
The question is raised after the Davao mayor's involuntary entry in the 2016 presidential election picture, when he placed third among potential aspirants in a national poll

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Now that Davao City Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte has been thrown into the mix of candidates in the 2016 presidential election, people have begun to ask: Will he be the alternative bet of the ruling Liberal Party?

The possibility was triggered by the release of the latest Pulse Asia Research survey results on presidential preferences of voters on Tuesday, March 17.

Duterte, included for the first time in a survey on potential presidental candidates, is currently tied with former president now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada at third and fourth – both garnering 12% voters’ preference – behind top contender Vice President Jejomar Binay (29%) and Senator Grace Poe (14%)

Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, who his partymates insist to be the top LP bet for 2016, is a distant 7th place, garnering only 4% of voters’ preference.

Broad coalition  

Duterte became LP chair in Davao City in 2009 after former party head Peter Laviña relinquished the post in favor of the soon to be 70-year-old mayor.

Duterte was a member of the Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipino-Laban (PDP-Laban) but switched party in 2009 in preparation for the 2010 national elections. 

He ran for vice mayor of Davao City in 2010.

Duterte began his “listening tour” in January after repeatedly resisting calls for him to run for president, seen as an indication that he was considering the bid. (READ: Will Duterte run for president?)

He is using federalism as a platform for his listening tour, saying it is the solution to the 4-decade Mindanao conflict if the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law fails.

His listening tour, which has brought him to as far as Metro Manila, Baguio, and Dagupan in Luzon; Ilolio and Dumaguete in the Visayas; and practically all over Mindanao.

Laviña said Duterte has stepped up his nationwide tour and may finally relent to the clamor to run for president.

“The SWS survey is still ongoing.  Hopefully it will validate the Pulse (Asia) result or even top if off as Rody covered more grounds during the past 3 weeks,” Laviña revealed.

The controversial Davao City mayor has been courted by all previous post-Cory Aquino Philippine presidents either to join their administration as a cabinet member or be part of their senatorial slate.

Should he decide to run for president, longtime aide and former 3-term Davao City Councilor Peter Laviña said Duterte would prefer the support of a broad coalition of political groups.

“Knowing Rody, he would likely form a broad coalition rather than accept nomination from one party,” Laviña said.

Mindanao votes

Duterte is likely to corner the Mindanao votes should he run for president. He is known for his ability to reign over various factions of Moro rebel groups, including the communist New People’s Army. (READ: NPA releases 3 captive cops to Duterte)

The March 1-7 Pulse Asia survey showed that he has overtaken Binay and  Estrada as the top preferred presidential candidate among Mindanao voters.

Mindanao is the second largest island in the Philippines.

Nobody from Mindanao has ever made it to Malacañang, so far. –

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