The worst-kept secret in the Philippines is the planned presidential candidacy of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio in 2022. Numerous groups are already urging her in creative ways to run for the nation’s highest office next year, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. To add fuel to the fire, the ruling PDP-Laban party officially urged her father President Rodrigo Duterte to run for vice president.
It is unlikely that we would see a daughter-father tandem, partly to appeal to a geographically-broader electorate. Nonetheless, the erratic sociopolitical landscape that has emerged under the current leadership has taught us to never rule out such a possibility, especially if their supporters are banking on the alleged popularity of the current President to send another Duterte to Malacañang.
Instead of just going with what the news and public opinion surveys tell you, we need to know exactly why we should vote for a Duterte in 2022.
If you want the same style of leadership that has ruled the Philippines for the past five years, then you should definitely vote for a Duterte.
It is fair to question the assumption that children would exhibit the same qualities and tendencies as their parents in the political arena. However, we are in a nation that has been effectively ruled by political dynasties for so long that many citizens have simply accepted it as the norm. This is despite the Constitution clearly prohibiting the prevalence of these families and guaranteeing “equal access to opportunities for public service.”
We have seen the children of former chief executives follow their parents’ footsteps before, to mixed results at best. We repeatedly see dynasty members get elected not for their track records or actual platforms for addressing issues, but solely based on their name and vague rhetoric. Yet the notion of the President’s direct successor being a family member simply takes this blatant disregard to a whole new level.
There are also similarities between the two Dutertes that are a likely reflection of the rule we can expect from the current Davao City mayor. Look no further than their respective response to the COVID-19 pandemic, where both leaders deployed tactics of fear and intimidation in an attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
While Mayor Duterte allowed coffins to be placed along the streets of Davao City to convince people to avoid unnecessarily going outside of their homes, President Duterte stated a threat of violence for potential curfew violators and, at one point, branded the global health crisis as an issue “with no solution in sight.”
Along with other factors such as the failure to strengthen healthcare systems, this tactic has failed to effectively curb COVID-19. This has resulted in thousands of new cases still being reported in the Philippines, and Davao City recently considering another lockdown.
Another example is the war on drugs, a staple of the President’s regime. The program has been a well-documented failure filled with human rights violations inflicted on poorer families and a lack of accountability on those responsible for them. This is also evident in Davao City, where recent arrests show that the family’s rule of the city for decades has not stopped local illegal drugs businesses.
Even the pre-campaign strategies are similar, almost like following the script of a formulaic telenovela. So far, both Dutertes have publicly denied their intent to pursue the Presidency in their respective times, claiming a lack of interest or being unfit for national office. Meanwhile, groups and individuals would be clamoring for them to run anyway.
Expect Mayor Duterte to eventually announce her candidacy as a response to widespread calls and portray herself as both an outsider to the system and the chosen one to carry the Duterte legacy, which as an image is as contradictory as many of the President’s words and actions for the past five years.
If you want to witness foreigners continue to illegally claim parts of Philippine territory and violate our sovereignty without any strong interventions from our top leaders, you should vote for a Duterte.
If you want press freedom to be continuously suppressed and to see the spread of more fake news and misinformation on all forms of media, you should vote for a Duterte.
If you want the old set of oligarchs and unqualified government officials to be removed from power, only to be replaced by a new set of oligarchs and unqualified government officials who will just continue cronyism in the Philippines, you should vote for a Duterte.
If you want more ineffective responses to different types of crises, from potential health issues to the worsening impacts of the climate crisis, you should vote for a Duterte.
If you are content about the poor state of our country, shrouded in a climate of fear, confusion, and hopelessness where the burden is on you than the leaders mandated to serve you...you know the rest.
Of course, there is no guarantee that any of the other potential candidates will do a better job running the country. But given what we have seen the past five years, a nation under its worst recession in decades with a decaying moral compass, it is clear that this country needs a different leader than a Duterte. Or any of his allies. Or a Marcos, Aquino, or anyone with a familiar name.
Let me end with yet another worst-kept secret: if you really want to say that the right kind of change is coming to the Philippines, then vote wisely in 2022.
Then again, maybe we are just fooling ourselves. Brace yourself for another long night. – Rappler.com
John Leo Algo is a climate and environment advocate working with government agencies, and has been representing Philippine civil society in related UN conferences since 2017. He has also been a citizen journalist since 2016.