Boxing out Sara

A PRESIDENTIAL candidate once said that positions should not be inherited (hindi pinamamana). This mayor thought it would be a clear contrast and an early dig at a sitting president. If you look at the Philippines and other countries, there are dynastic influences whether at the national or local levels. Dynasties also fall because the nature of elections is one person, one vote. There are good and bad dynasties too. And that is what separates Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio from the rest of the kids of politicians: she does not want to be with her father in an election contest. It's either her or the father. It's her team or none. It's her way of running things or she walks away. Clearly, Duterte-Carpio does not want to be defined by anyone. Duterte-Carpio is her own person, and that is why today, she is not a presidential candidate.

This article was originally published in The Manila Times on October 12, 2021

Duterte-Carpio does not want to give an assurance that the old guards of President Rodrigo Duterte will be with her in the run-up to the campaign period up to June 30 should Lady Luck be with her. She will get her own running mate. That is why she made public the three names that applied for it and visited her. Why is the Duterte base extremely enamored by her? It is because she is a different Duterte as Davaeños saw in her two terms as city mayor since 2016. Some say a better and kinder Duterte despite the sheriff episode in 2011.

But like a true soldier and a member of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, Sen. Ronald "Bato" de la Rosa rushed to the Comission of Elections (Comelec) to file his certificate of nomination and acceptance and certificate of candidacy for the position of president in the last minute of the last day of filing for the May 2022 elections. Bato and Sen. Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go both ran under the administration party in 2019. Win or lose, they go back to the Senate since they have a live term until 2025. Bato landed fifth with 19,004,225 votes, or 40.18 percent, while Go was third with 20,657,702 votes, or 42,35 percent. Was Bato's act a mockery? No, because it is the right of every political party to field their own candidates at what time and under strategies they themselves made.

Besides, an administration party without a head of the tandem does not sit well at the national as well as the local level. Will Bato be substituted by Duterte-Carpio? The only way for Duterte-Carpio to enter the fray is for her to take her oath as a member of PDP-Laban and do the switch. Duterte-Carpio does not share the way PDP-Laban is managed and she does not relish substitution. No one filed for the presidential position from the People's Reform Party (PRP), thinking she would at the last minute. No one filed for vice president from the Partido Federal so there is no tandem to speak of with former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

What seemed to be the pairing in June (Duterte-Carpio-Marcos or Marcos-Duterte-Carpio) got torpedoed with the non-filing of the President on October 1 and the sudden introduction into the fray of Go. Clearly, an "invisible hand" pushing for a Duterte-Carpio-Go team-up. But we know this will never happen. That is why we saw many movements at the PRP of the late Miriam Defensor Santiago. Can Duterte-Carpio substitute an independent? Clearly, she can't.

What stood out was PDP-Laban, and it's no longer the Cusi wing because there is only one PDP-Laban candidate for the presidency, has a complete slate from president, vice president and eight candidates for senator. The remaining senatorial slots are supposed to be for guest candidates. That there are no cabinet secretaries filing save for Public Works Secretary Mark Villar and Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo is telling. Some were just waiting for the President to say, yes, you are included.

It would appear that there will be changes come November 15, definitely part of strategy. Whether it is good, depends on the lay of the land. The rest of the parties also failed to present their slates because individual candidates just went directly to Comelec. These actions do not augur well for the party system. The national parties were not heard of and small parties (more like sleeping parties) all of a sudden were center stage such as Promdi (of the late Lito Osmena and now under Sen. Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao), Reporma (of Rene de Villa now under former ex-speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, and aligned with Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson and Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto 3rd), Aksyon Demokratiko (Raul Roco now with Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso) and PRP, under Undersecretary Jun Santiago, husband of Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

Who is the administration? We witnessed how badly done the vetting was for the administration in relation to the May 2022 elections. As early as June 2021, there appeared to be consensus with two names: Marcos and Duterte-Carpio. It was reported that five national parties would enter into a coalition with Hugpong ng Pagbabago, with each party naming two candidates for the Senate. But nothing happened.

So, instead of having one ticket for the administration, we now have two: de la Rosa-Go and Marcos while the "opposition" has five: Leody de Cuzman (Partido Lakas ng Masa), Lacson (Partido Reporma), Domagoso (Aksyon Demokratiko), Pacquiao (Reporma) and Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo (Independent/Liberal Party).


How do you solve a problem like the Dutertes when it appears "never the twain shall meet?" It would be easier if they leave it between the father and the daughter but then again, a political box-out is like a cordon locked hard. But "you never know how strong you are, until being strong is your only choice." And that walk away says a lot about Duterte-Carpio.



About the Author
Malou Tiqiua is the Founder/General Manager of PUBLiCUS Asia Inc. A noted political management expert in the Philippines and Asia, she brings over 20 years of professional experience in public, private and the academe combined. Author of the comprehensive book on electoral campaigns in the Philippines, "Campaign Politics", Malou is a graduate of the University of the Philippines with a Political Science degree and a Master of Public Administration. She completed her second master's degree (MA in Political Management) from the Graduate School of Political Management, George Washington University.
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