By ALFRED GABOT, Editor in Chief
DAVAO CITY/CEBU CITY/MANILA – Exactly one year before President Rodrigo Duterte ends his six-year term, signs from all over point to his staying in power as vice president as his lawyer-daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara “Inday” Duterte-Carpio was reported to be consolidating silently her forces for a presidential run on May 9, 2022.
This as the ruling party PDP-Laban officially endorsed in a national assembly in Cebu City President Duterte as the party’s official candidate for vice president with the sole authority to pick his presidential candidate.
The PDP-Laban endorsement indicated a crack in the administration as the holding of the Cebu meeting was opposed by some party leaders headed by their president Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao who is perceived to be preparing also for a presidential run.
Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, who has been mentioned by President Duterte as his possible successor, meanwhile, reiterated that he was not interested in running for a higher position in 2020, but hinted that Mr. Duterte may accept their party’s endorsement and that he could run with his support.
Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo at the same time said she has not decided on a presidential run as some supporters like former Camarines Sur congressman and budget secretary Rolando Andaya said he will support Robredo if she runs for governor of their home province. Observers said this indicated that the opposition is weak and may not be able to field a strong and winnable presidential bet.
The PDP-Laban endorsement of Mr. Duterte immediately drew flak from opposition leaders and other sectors, including Sen. Panfilo Lacson, himself a possible presidential candidate, saying the country was not ready for a Davao City-style Duterte-Duterte tandem.
Should Mayor Duterte decide to run for president and she gets picked by President Duterte for the 2022 elections, the ruling PDP-Laban will “toe the line” and will endorse the Duterte-Duterte tandem, said lawyer Melvin Matibag, an appointee of the president in the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines who is acting PDP-Laban secretary general.
Matibag said the ruling party will “commit” and “definitely support” the candidacy of the President’s daughter who is the head of another party, the Hugpong Pagbabago
In another development, Mayor Duterte met with Sen. Maria Imelda “Imee” Marcos and her brother, former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., in Davao City a day before she celebrated her birthday where they talked also about politics.
A possible Duterte-Marcos or Marcos-Duterte tandem is being discussed by their followers, but with the endorsement of President Marcos, the team up maybe set aside. Marcos ran for vice president in the 2016 elections but lost to Robredo.
After meeting Marcos, congressional leaders led by Speaker Lord Alan Velasco, Majority Leader Martin Romualdez and other key figures of the Chamber, including Reps. Bernadette Herrera Dy, Kristine Singson-Meehan, Stella Luz Quimbo, Wes Gatchalian and Mark Enverga, called on Mayor Duterte.
Political analysts said a Duterte-Duterte tandem would be unbeatable in 2022.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda confirmed that Mayor Duterte has been consolidating forces to mount her presidential bid in next year’s national elections.
For Salceda, the handwriting on the wall has been all too clear with only Duterte-Carpio’s choice of running mate still undecided.
Duterte’s spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque, meanwhile, said the President shall think of what is best for the country before deciding whether to heed the call of PDP-Laban’s national council.
The younger Duterte is an acknowledged political heavyweight having established in 2019 her regional group “Hugpong ng Pagbabago” and was believed to be responsible in ousting two speakers in the House of Representatives.
Mayor Duterte has remained the most viable candidate for president in 2022 as she consistently topped independent surveys despite saying she would not run, indicating she is a strong and winnable candidate for president. (with Claire Morales True)