Rodrigo Duterte

Duterte teases Sara: Run for president if you’re patriotic

Pia Ranada
Duterte has also been known to step down from power only when he knows he can hand the reins to someone he trusts. For many years in Davao City, this person was Sara.

Offering yet another sign that his mind is on 2022, President Rodrigo Duterte teased his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, to take his place in Malacañang if she has something she can “do for the country.”

In a speech on Monday, July 13, but aired on Tuesday, Duterte said, Sinabi ko kay Inday, ’wag kang magpresidente unless you see something na kaya mo para gawain mo sa bayan. Pero if just a matter of ambition, lay off.”

(I told Inday, don’t run for president unless you see something that you can do for the country. But if it’s just a matter of ambition, lay off.)

“Inday” is Duterte’s nickname for his eldest daughter. (READ: The Dutertes: A family in the national spotlight)

This is hardly the first time Duterte spoke of Sara as a possible presidential candidate. Talk of this gained traction in 2019 during the national elections, when the presidential daughter, through a regional political party, promoted her own set of senatorial candidates.

Sara, while not a national candidate herself, went all over the country promoting the senatorial ticket of her party, Hugpong ng Pagbabago.

But while Duterte, in the past, made it appear like he was discouraging Sara because of the lack of fulfilment and intense politics in taking on the presidency, his messaging this time around was slightly different.

He said Sara should seek the highest office if she could “take the heat” and serve the nation.

“Kung hindi ka magnakaw, ah, puta, wala, pagod lang. Unless you are driven by patriotism. O, ’yan, kung gusto mo talaga mag-service sa bayan mo, said Duterte.

(If you don’t steal, ah, bitch, nothing, all you get is exhaustion. Unless you are driven by patriotism, if you want to be of service to your country.)

Why does this matter?

With Duterte on the last half of his presidency, Filipinos and political observers are waiting for him to anoint a successor.

Incumbent presidents typically back one presidential candidate and often use state machinery to promote them. Duterte would have big reasons to want an ally of his to take his place because of the many cases looming over him. The greatest of these would be the investigations of the United Nations human rights council into his campaign against illegal drugs and complaints against him before the International Criminal Court.

Duterte has also been known to step down from power only when he knows he can hand the reins to someone he trusts. For many years in Davao City, this person was Sara.

One of the reasons why he pushed through with his 2016 presidential bid was because his daughter agreed to run for Davao City mayor in his stead.

Since the 2019 elections, there has also been talk of Duterte’s longtime aide, Senator Bong Go, running for president.

But Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, speaking for Go, told Rappler back in May: “You’re barking at (sic) the wrong tree. He (Go) has no plans for the 2022 elections because his term is until 2025. There is another candidate for president and it’s not him.” –

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at