CAMPAIGN NOTES: A one-minute chat with Kitty Duterte

"Campaign Notes" are filed by Rappler reporters and correspondents who have been covering specific candidates or localities. The series gives insights into the candidates' character, trusted people, and campaign decisions. 

 

I was able to have a small chat with Rodrigo Duterte’s youngest daughter Veronica “Kitty” Duterte at his sortie in Lipa, Batangas in April.

Her father was inside the Lipa mayor’s office and had just been interviewed by us reporters. Twelve-year-old Kitty was with her mom, Cieleto “Honeylet” Avanceña seated on a couch in another room.

“I feel tired but we have to support him,” said Kitty when I asked her how she was feeling, attending all those rallies with her parents.

She’s a common sight in Duterte’ sorties. I’d say out of all Duterte’s kids, she's the one who's seen most often with him on the campaign trail.

Kitty can often be seen bravely walking up the stage to her father under the gaze of hundreds, even thousands of people. In the middle of his speech, she whispers to him reminders like the lack of time or the need to mention important parts of his platform like continuing the popular Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). 

When Duterte doesn’t heed her advice, Kitty said she gives him the silent treatment after.

“I don’t talk to him and then he’ll hug me and say, ‘I’m sorry,’” she shared. 

MOTHER-DAUGHTER TEAM. Honeylet Avanceu00f1a with her daughter Kitty Duterte wait for Rody Duterte to finish his speech in Pandacan, Manila. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/ Rappler

MOTHER-DAUGHTER TEAM. Honeylet Avanceu00f1a with her daughter Kitty Duterte wait for Rody Duterte to finish his speech in Pandacan, Manila.

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/ Rappler

About the large crowds and enthusiastic supporters she sees during Duterte’s motorcades and rallies, she said she feels grateful.

“Thankful, thankful ako sa mga tao na nag-support sa kanya (I’m thankful to the people who support him),” she said. 

When asked why she thinks her dad will make a good president, she said, “He loves the country and he will take care of the people, he will take care of the Filipinos.”

Despite being the daughter of a now powerful man, Kitty is no princess. I’ve seen her struggle through stampede-like crowds. One time, I had fought my way to the tiny circle of the media ambush-interviewing Duterte only to see Kitty right beside me, holding up her smartphone, sweaty but composed.

She told me, on another occasion, that she’s not scared of the often uncontrollable crowd.

“If they push me, I push them back,” she said with a mischievous smile. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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