Sara Duterte

Amid talk of 2022 national run, Sara Duterte flies to luxury resort

Bea Cupin
Amid talk of 2022 national run, Sara Duterte flies to luxury resort

WELCOME TO BALESIN. Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte arrives in Balesin for the birthday party of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on November 11, 2021.

Sourced photo

The Davao City mayor – who recently withdrew her reelection bid – flies to Balesin ahead of the substitution deadline for candidates in the 2022 elections

As speculations over her assumed bid for a national post in the 2022 elections intensified, Davao Mayor Sara Duterte on Thursday, November 11, flew to the posh Balesin Island Club, an exclusive resort that’s accessible mostly via private plane.

The eldest daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte has kept mostly mum about her 2022 plans even after she officially backed out of reelection as city mayor. According to her spokesperson, Liloan Mayor Christina Frasco, the younger Duterte’s November 11 trip to Balesin is for “the birthday of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco to which she was invited.”

Velasco, who represents the lone district of Marinduque in Congress, is both a close personal friend and trusted political ally of the Dutertes. In June 2021, Velasco and his wife Wen visited Sara in Davao to celebrate her birthday. 

Sara officially withdrew her bid for reelection as Davao City mayor on November 9. While the move was a surprise – the mayor didn’t announce it before heading to the local Commission on Elections (COMELEC) office herself – it certainly wasn’t unexpected. 

Sara, who succeeded her father as Davao City mayor when he ran for president in 2016, has been the subject of speculations that she would gun for either the presidency or vice presidency in the 2022 elections. She had led early voter preference surveys on possible presidential aspirants, and even spearheaded her Hugpong ng Pagbabago’s campaign in 2019.

While Hugpong is a regional party, it endorsed a slate of senatorial candidates in the midterm elections, which administration or administration-allied bets had swept. 

With Sara formally withdrawing her candidacy as mayor, all signs seem to point to a national run. Candidates have until Monday, November 15, to substitute via withdrawal.

This means a national party’s candidate for president or vice president must back out of their candidacy. Sara can then file to be their substitute. Her younger brother, Davao City Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte, did as much in substituting for Sara as mayoral candidate after he, too, withdrew his candidacy for reelection.

The Balesin trip had been the talk on social media for a few days now – leading former president and House speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to deny, through her spokesperson, that she would be meeting with Sara in Balesin. 

To be sure, though, Sara’s ties to Arroyo run deep. The two politicians, who both happen to be the daughters of Philippine presidents, had met in July 2021, supposedly to talk about politics in the Philippines. Sara also had a hand in the ouster of former speaker Pantaleon Alvarez in 2018. It was Arroyo who replaced Alvarez, an erstwhile Duterte ally. –

Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.