2022 Philippine Elections

No plot twists? Sara Duterte says ‘no intention’ of being PDP-Laban standard-bearer

Bea Cupin
No plot twists? Sara Duterte says ‘no intention’ of being PDP-Laban standard-bearer

FINAL DECISION? Sara Duterte files her candidacy as mayor of Davao City on October 2.

Sara Duterte's Facebook page

Even after filing her candidacy for Davao mayor, the younger Duterte's name continues to be floated as the ruling party's standard-bearer

Not “now or in the near future.”

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte on Monday, October 4, thumbed down talk that she would be the ruling PDP-Laban’s presidential bet in the 2022 national elections.

“Mayor Sara Duterte has already filed her certificate of candidacy for Mayor. Not being a member of PDP-Laban, she is not privy to the party’s sudden change of plans. Mayor Sara has no intention of becoming a member of PDP or of being its standard-bearer now or in the near future,” said Liloan Mayor Christa Frasco, who is also Sara’s spokesperson.

Sara, President Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter, filed on Saturday, October 2, her candidacy for mayor of Davao City. Her filing took place minutes after President Duterte announced he’d be retiring from politics, after a surprise change from previous plans to run for vice president under PDP-Laban.

The ruling party is instead fielding long-time Duterte aide Senator Bong Go as vice president, who in turn was originally nominated by the party to run for president.

Despite Sara’s filing of her mayoralty candidacy, observers – from both sides of political lines – have cast doubt over the finality of the younger Duterte’s decision to run for mayor, recalling that in 2015, the older Duterte filed for mayor only to withdraw and run for president instead. Sara ran in his stead, winning the Davao mayor post in 2016.

Speculation that Sara could change her candidacy is fueled by no less than her father and the ruling party.

In a casual conversation with supporters on October 2, the older Duterte pushed for a “Sara-Go” tandem for 2022. President Duterte and Go went to shop for a watch shortly after going to the Commission on Elections to file Go’s candidacy.

The PDP-Laban leadership, meanwhile, has said that Sara’s name continues to be floated in discussions on the party’s eventual standard-bearer, thanks in part, to the older Duterte, who is party chairman and has been given the authority to fill in vacant national posts for the 2022 elections.

PDP-Laban president and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi in a Monday, October 4 interview with ANC’s Headstart, said Sara could opt to “rejoin” PDP-Laban. Cusi admitted, however, that he hasn’t spoken to Sara herself.

Cusi also expressed openness for the party to “adopt” a presidential candidate – meaning their standard-bearer would not be a member of the party themselves. “I think we’ll have [a presidential candidate],” said Cusi, when asked if there was a chance the ruling party would field only vice presidential and senatorial bets.

In a media briefing the same day, PDP-Laban secretary general Melvin Matibag said the ruling party would have a standard-bearer by October 8 – the last day for the filing of Certificates of Candidacy (COC).

The new search for PDP-Laban’s standard-bearer happens amid an ongoing battle between two factions – the Cusi-led and Duterte-backed group, and another headed by Senators Manny Pacquiao and Koko Pimentel.

The latter will be fielding Pacquiao as its presidential candidate – even as Pacquiao’s candidacy is under PROMDI, a Cebu-based party. Cusi’s group has declared Pacquiao “automatically expelled” from PDP-Laban on account of his PROMDI candidacy.

Sara still leads the latest surveys among possible 2022 presidential bets. Go, meanwhile, trails behind in early surveys for vice presidential candidates. Go, however, has nothing to lose in the 2022 elections. Even if he loses the vice presidential race, he has three more years before his senatorial term ends. – Rappler.com

Bea Cupin

Bea is a journalist.