Sara Duterte’s exit from Davao race stokes talk of national run
DAVAO CITY, Davao del Sur, Philippines — Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte on Tuesday backed out from her reelection bid, raising fresh expectations from her supporters that she would seek a national post in the 2022 general elections despite her recent denials.
A statement by Sen. Bong Go that there might be changes in his own plans to run as the candidate for vice president of a faction of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) hardened speculation that she would run either for president or for vice president.
Duterte went to the local office of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday afternoon to withdraw her certificate of candidacy (COC) for mayor that she filed on Oct. 2 under the regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HnP), which she heads.
Earlier in the day, her brother, Sebastian “Baste” Duterte, withdrew his own COC for vice mayor, telling journalists that it was upon her instruction so that he could substitute for her as candidate for mayor. He made the substitution an hour after she withdrew her COC. Councilor Jay Melchor Jr., son of chief presidential legal counsel Melchor Quitain, in turn substituted for him as candidate for vice mayor.
“This afternoon, I am withdrawing my candidacy for mayor of Davao City. [Vice Mayor] Baste will replace me. This is all for now. Thank you very much,” Duterte said in a brief announcement on social media that did not provide details about her political plans.
Go: Politics ‘very dirty’
Speaking at the opening of a Malasakit Center in Antipolo City also on Tuesday, Go, a longtime aide of President Rodrigo Duterte, said changes about who will be running for certain positions were now affecting his own political plans.
“You know, politics is messy. There were many things that happened in the past days that I didn’t like, that you wouldn’t understand. My candidacy for vice president may change,” he said in an emotional speech
He said politics “is very dirty.”
He spoke around noon, hours after the president’s son withdrew from the vice mayoral race in Davao City and before the mayor announced her withdrawal from the race for a third term.
“You are here willing to serve your fellow Filipinos, yet there are changes that I have no control over,” he said, tearing up.
He said he had wanted to serve as vice president, which the president had desired, but there were things he had to keep away from.
“You will know about that in the coming days,” he added.
He said that if it were up to him, he would run for vice president “100 percent,” but the PDP-Laban may have other plans.
“It’s possible the party will have decisions in the coming days. Changes are possible,” he said, adding that plans could change due to substitutions.
Asked to comment about the withdrawal of the Duterte siblings’ COCs, he said he didn’t want to speculate on “the plans of the family.”
“I belong to a party with President Duterte. It is his decision and the decision of the party for me to run as vice president,” he said.
There has been a strong clamor by supporters of the President for his daughter to succeed him supposedly to continue his “legacy.” She has topped surveys for the preferred president.
A national movement such as the Sara All Philippines 2022 has been consistently pushing her to heed their call to run for president.
As the Oct. 8 deadline for the submission of candidacy documents drew near amid expectations that she would withdraw her mayoral bid and go for the presidency, Duterte didn’t show up on the last day of the filing of COC.
Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, who filed his COC as PDP-Laban’s presidential bet, has openly said he preferred Duterte to run instead of him.
On Oct. 25, the two met but Duterte remained tight-lipped about her plans and next moves. She said she thanked the former chief of the Philippine National Police for his “advice and words of wisdom” during their meeting.
Last week, she asked Sara All to drop a planned national caravan from Mindanao to Manila in a last-ditch effort to convince her to run for president.
Duterte told the organizers that the plan was unwise because of the pandemic and money spent for it could be used to help the poor. Besides, she said, her decision not to run for president was already made as early as Sept. 10 when her father accepted PDP-Laban’s nomination as its bet for vice president. The President later announced that he wasn’t running after all.
She explained that her family agreed that only one member should seek a national post in 2022.
On Aug. 25, as the President and Go seemed to have made their own political moves contingent on her still unknown plans for 2022, the Davao mayor indicated reservations about running for the presidency.
“I am not a ‘last two minutes person.’ I think, I organize and I implement accordingly,” she said in a statement then.
Team-up with Marcos?
Duterte first talked about plans for 2022 in July following a meeting with Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia. She told reporters in Cebu that she was already open to the idea of seeking the presidency.
At that time, HnP and other so-called parallel groups appeared all set for her presidential run.
In June, HnP secretary general Anthony del Rosario admitted to the Inquirer that even as Duterte had not made up her mind to run for president, the party had already firmed up alliances with other parties, among them the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, National Unity Party, Nacionalista Party, Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino and the People’s Reform Party.
After Duterte disclosed her decision on Tuesday to withdraw as mayoral candidate, the President’s supporters speculated she would either run in tandem with Ferdinand Marcos Jr. or against him and the other presidential contenders.
When the president accompanied Go on Oct. 2 to file a COC for vice president, he said the administration ticket for 2022 is “Sara-Go.”
The mayor has disclosed that Go had sought to be her running mate should she run for president in 2022.
Last month, she met Marcos in Cebu. She admitted their discussions included how HnP could help his presidential bid.
The statement has fueled another round of speculation that she would run as Marcos’ vice president, which would pit her against Go.