Duterte family

[OPINION] A classic Duterte misdirection or power move?

Joey Salgado

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[OPINION] A classic Duterte misdirection or power move?
Three Dutertes running for the Senate? It can be a float to gauge support for the Duterte brand – or a matter of necessity.

Just when you thought you didn’t need reminding that the midterm elections are just around the corner comes this announcement from no less than Vice President Sara Duterte that three Dutertes will run for the Senate in 2025. That would be former president Rodrigo Duterte, Davao City Representative Paolo Duterte, and Davao City Mayor Sebastian “Baste” Duterte.

Elections are usually dismissed by cynics as circuses. But this is Barnum & Bailey via Star City bonkers. 

The immediate reaction from the Duterte hordes ranged from the ecstatic to the delusional: the Dutertes are sure winners and their political heft emanates from the people’s desire for a return to the “Duterte style of government.” 

The more level-headed observers, a dying breed for sure, see several motives behind this shocker of an announcement.

One is that this was a “float” intended to gauge the level of public support for the so-called Duterte brand. 

With the names of three Dutertes included in pre-election surveys, their camp can gauge their winnability as a bundle or as individual candidates, especially when the father, recently resurrected on social media but visibly suffering from the ravages of age and the absence of remorse, appears in no condition to withstand a grueling campaign. 

By October, when candidates start filing their certificates of candidacy, we might have just one of the brothers, if not both of them, running for the Senate, banking on residual loyalty mainly concentrated in Mindanao.  

The other motive is necessity. The Dutertes know they will not be able to cobble a decent and viable ticket to take on the administration slate in 2025. Better to have three Dutertes running and damn the public outrage rather than have three empty seats during campaign rallies. (WATCH: Newsbreak Chats: What 2025 looks like after the administration breakup)

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Then again, it could be a test of loyalty, a call for the troops to line up behind the Dutertes especially when rumors of high-level defections to the Marcos camp are getting louder with each passing day. Are you listening, Senator Bong Go? 

‘Swarming’ and the surfer dude

But winning the election may not be the objective at all.  

There is the possibility that the Dutertes plan to run so they can continue hammering at the administration and the President, undermining or sabotaging his policies, consolidating their base, and sowing disunity under the cover of campaign rhetoric. It’s the political equivalent of China’s swarming tactic in the West Philippine Sea.

The administration may succeed in electing most if not all its candidates, but the incessant assaults from within, like termites eating at the foundations of a house, will leave a society broken, a nation dissembling – perpetually bickering, divided, and ungovernable. Such disunity, conspiracy theorists would say, benefits a third party. 

The Vice President also hinted that her brother Baste might run for president in 2028. Her political future, she implied, remains unclear.

Mayor Baste is the surfer dude who became mayor. He is the same dude who called on President Marcos Jr. to resign during a prayer rally. And recently he became the online tormentor of the perpetually grinning Senator Go, his father’s long-time aide and confidante. 

What makes Baste qualified to be president? From no less than his father came this glowing endorsement, made in February 2017.

“‘My youngest son is a jerk,” he said in a nationally televised speech, delivered, according to a BBC report, “in a mixture of Tagalog, English and the Visayan dialect.”

So this latest revelation could also be considered a classic “deflect” move, meant to transfer public attention, and all the bad vibes it entails, from the Vice President, who is the presumptive presidential bet of the Duterte opposition, to her pa-cool and pa-nonchalant mayor bro.

But perhaps I’m reading too much into the announcement. Old men with laptops and plenty of time on their hands tend to do that. I have forgotten that this is trademark Duterte: if you can’t convince them, just confuse them. – Rappler.com

Joey Salgado is a former journalist, and a government and political communications practitioner. He served as spokesperson for former vice president Jejomar Binay. This article was first published on ourbrew.ph.

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  1. ET

    If these three “macho” Duterte politicians join the 2025 Elections as senatorial candidates, they might transform the “quality” of the Philippine Political circus into “world-class.” However, it might not be in the way of the “Barnum & Bailey via Star City bonkers,” but rather that of the “Three Stooges.” In fairness to the latter, their comedy appealed to dumb viewers, just as the latest election appealed to the “bobotantes.”

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