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MANILA, Philippines – The men of the Duterte family were nowhere in sight during President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s public events in Davao City on Wednesday, February 7, his first trip to the King City of the South since his feud with the political clan spilled into the public eye.
Marcos attended four events: the inauguration of the Davao City Bulk Water Supply Project, the region-wide land e-title distribution to agrarian reform beneficiaries, the ceremonial signing of contracts for the Davao Public Transport Modernization Project (DPTMP), and a situation briefing on the impact of the floods in Davao region. Vice President Sara Duterte was present in the last three.
Davao City Mayor Sebastian “Baste” Duterte, meanwhile, was absent in all four. It is highly unusual for a sitting local chief executive to miss an event graced by the President in their locality.
An unimpeachable source told Rappler on condition of anonymity that Baste was invited to the DPTMP event organized by the Department of Transportation (DOTr), but declined to attend, without giving a reason.
Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte and former president Rodrigo Duterte also did not attend any of the four events. Rappler also learned they were invited to the DOTr ceremony, but provided no feedback.
Their absence is notable, but not entirely surprising, since the word war between Marcos and the Dutertes took place just over a week ago.
On January 28, the Dutertes graced a leadership forum and a candlelight prayer rally against charter change in Davao City – events where they seized the opportunity to criticize President Marcos.
Baste called for Marcos’ resignation, while the former president – notorious for tagging personalities in the narco ring without basis – accused his successor of once being part of the government’s drug watch list.
A day later, Marcos retaliated by claiming that it was Duterte’s continued fentanyl use that was making him act erratically in public.
On that spectacle-filled day, Vice President Sara attended Marcos’ “Bagong Pilipinas” grand rally in Manila, before flying to Davao City to take part in the candlelight prayer rally.
Marcos and the former president’s daughter Sara ran as a tandem in the 2022 polls, and their alliance catapulted them to the country’s two highest posts.
Maintaining that partnership has been a challenge, amid political developments that were interpreted by analysts as disadvantageous to the Dutertes.
The Marcos-allied Congress denied Sara’s request for confidential funds in 2024, and Marcos himself said the administration was studying the possibility of the Philippines re-joining the International Criminal Court, which is investigating Rodrigo’s bloody drug war.
The House has also flagged the billions of pesos allocated to Paolo Duterte’s district when his father was president. – Rappler.com