2022 Philippine Elections

Sara Duterte, the incumbent president’s heir, wins VP race

Bea Cupin

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Sara Duterte, the incumbent president’s heir, wins VP race

WINNER. UniTeam's Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte rally voters in Quezon Province on March 23, 2022.

Allan Peter Sinco/PonD News Asia

President Rodrigo Duterte's eldest daughter wins her first national race, also marking the Duterte dynasty's entry into national politics

MANILA, Philippines – Davao Mayor Sara Duterte, fueled by a campaign that promised “unity” and the popularity of her father, the incumbent President, is poised to win the second-highest post in land.

As of 4:06 am on Tuesday, May 10, Duterte’s lead of 30,065,495 votes, with 93.53% of precincts reporting, has made it impossible for any of her rivals to catch up. 

The 43-year-old, who has been in politics for most of her adult life, is the second Duterte in a row to hold national office. Her father, President Rodrigo Duterte, ends his term on June 30, 2022 yet – the same day Sara Duterte is set to take her oath as the 15th vice president of the Republic. 

Sara’s path to the Office of the Vice President was almost as dramatic as her father’s road to Malacañang in the 2016 elections. The Davao mayor, then leading early preference polls for president, initially filed for reelection as city mayor, shutting down calls for her to follow in her father’s footsteps in the national scene. 

But following a self-reported bout of COVID-19, Duterte made a quick trip to Cebu City where she met with presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. The two tried to play it coy but barely two weeks later, Sara Duterte withdrew her mayoral candidacy, resigned from her local party Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP), flew to Manila to attend a wedding, then joined Lakas-CMD, a national party. 

She later filed her substitution as Lakas-CMD’s vice presidential bet. 

Lakas-CMD, HNP, Marcos Jr.’s 2022 vehicle Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, and Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino then came together to form the “Uniteam alliance” with Marcos and Duterte as standard-bearers. The two quickly became the runaway front-runners in the 2022 race. 

Sara Duterte is a respiratory therapy graduate who later pursued a law degree and passed the bar. Just two years after officially earning the right to practice law, Duterte was elected vice mayor of Davao while her father was reelected as Davao City mayor.

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Sara, the other Duterte

Sara, the other Duterte

The 2007 elections would be the year the Duterte political dynasty – in its current iteration – was established. Months after the father-daughter tandem was elected to city hall, Rodrigo Duterte’s eldest son Paolo Duterte, Catalunan Grande barangay chairman, joined the city’s legislative branch. 

Two of President Duterte’s sons hold posts in Davao City – Paolo is seeking reelection as 1st District representative while Sebastian, the younger son, is the incumbent vice mayor who is running to replace Sara as mayor. 

The Duterte dynasty in Mindanao traces its roots to Sara’s grandfather and Rodrigo’s father, Vicente, who was governor of the then-united Davao. The Dutertes also have relatives in Cebu province who have held public office or are seeking reelection in 2022. 

But it’s with Sara Duterte’s win that the dynasty officially goes national. President Duterte had wanted Sara to run for president – her numbers were dominant, after all. But the younger Duterte, who’s always been independent of her father, sought the second-highest post instead. 

Sara and her standard-bearer, Marcos, ran under a promise of “unity.” The tandem, for months, had no concrete platform, although Sara early on emphasized three major priority areas: economic recovery from COVID-19, education, and peace and order. She also promised to continue several of her father’s programs, including infrastructure projects (of which many remain unfinished), and law enforcement.

The Davao mayor is set to take over the post of presidential bet and outgoing Vice President Leni Robredo, whose tenure in the Office of the Vice President (OVP) featured extensive collaboration with the private sector and nongovernment organizations, especially during times of crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Sara Duterte said during the campaign that she intends to create satellite offices for the OVP across the country, so that Filipinos would no longer need to seek out national officials in Manila. 

President Duterte leaves behind a country still reeling from the economic downfalls caused by the pandemic, as well as vulnerabilities that still persist in the country’s healthcare system. 

It is also critical for the older Duterte to still have allies in government – be it political or filial. The President and his allies face an International Criminal Court probe into extrajudicial deaths both during his term as president and his time as Davao mayor. – Rappler.com 

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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.