MANILA, Philippines – Francis Escudero, one of several former senators eyeing a return to the Senate in 2022, was formally endorsed by Davao Mayor Sara Duterte, who is running for vice president under Lakas-CMD.
Duterte, through her regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP), made the announcement on Saturday, February 5. By Monday, February 7, Escudero was a guest on her daily web show Sara All 4 U, which features different government programs in Davao City and a senatorial bet upon the invitation of the Davao mayor.
In their quick tete-a-tete, Duterte asked Escudero about his experience as governor and about his marriage to actress Heart Evangelista.
Escudero is one of three candidates whom Duterte has announced support for even if they’re not on the UniTeam slate, or the slate official endorsed by her 2022 coalition. Aside from Escudero, Duterte has endorsed former Cabinet official Sal Panelo and actor and die-hard Duterte supporter Robin Padilla.
UniTeam is the nickname for the alliance between Duterte’s HNP, Lakas-CMD, Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, and presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s Partido Federal ng Pilipinas. The alliance backs Marcos Jr. and Duterte – both presidential children – as their official 2022 ticket.
Duterte’s endorsement of Escudero’s bid for the Senate means he’s now in four slates – three tandems and one candidate for vice president’s. He’s part of the slates of Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Kiko Pangilinan, of Senators Ping Lacson and Tito Sotto, and of Senator Manny Pacquiao and congressman Lito Atienza.
Escudero isn’t the sole Senate aspirant with the distinction of being in four slates. The other one? Reelectionist Senator Miguel Zubiri who, apart from being in the UniTeam official slate, is also on the three tandem slates that Escudero is also a part of.
Explaining her decision to endorse Senate bets outside the UniTeam slate, Duterte told officials in Sorsogon during a stop on her country-wide caravan: “Meron din po akong hindi kasama sa UniTeam pero mga kaibigan ko pa rin at tinutulungan ko sila sa kanilang pagtakbo as senators (There are friends of mine who are not on the UniTeam but who I still want to help in their senatorial candidacies).”
While shared candidates are a recurring peculiarity in Philippine politics, it’s not common to see a presidential and vice-presidential tandem endorse different sets of senator slates.
But out-of-the box decisions in national politics – particularly when it comes to Senate slates – isn’t anything new for Sara Duterte.
In 2019, Duterte’s HNP endorsed two Senate slates – an 8-member lineup for allied political parties and a 13-member lineup just for the Davao region, where the party is based. Only 12 senators are elected to the Senate every three years.
But amid talk or impressions that Sara Duterte is picking paths that diverge from her running mate, the Davao mayor released a statement on Sunday, February 6, to say that she did “not [entertain] the thoughts of a possible replacement” and that she “[does] not look forward to a scenario of a disqualified BBM – before or after the elections.” Duterte was addressing the disqualification cases against Marcos Jr., which have yet to be resolved.
Duterte is the eldest daughter of the incumbent president, Rodrigo Duterte.
The elder Duterte had urged his daughter to run for president and has since expressed disappointment that she didn’t gun for the top post of the land. Still, the party he chairs, PDP-Laban, had adopted Sara as their vice-presidential bet. Both Panelo and Padilla are members and senatorial bets of PDP-Laban.
Neither Duterte nor PDP-Laban has endorsed a presidential bet. – Rappler.com