Duterte sons face challengers for the first time

Davao City Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte— ALBERT ALCAIN/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

DAVAO CITY, Davao del Sur, Philippines — Unlike the previous elections when President Rodrigo Duterte’s children ran unchallenged in their respective bids for local posts here, a former political ally has emerged to run against Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte in the mayoral race, while a nongovernment organization worker will challenge Paolo’s reelection bid for the first district congressional seat in the city.

Lawyer Ruy Elias Lopez, son of the late former Davao City Mayor Elias Lopez who was credited for introducing Rodrigo Duterte to politics in 1987, is running for mayor because, he said, he wanted to “give the people of Davao a choice.”

Lopez, a representative for three terms in the city’s third district, is the latest to challenge to the Dutertes’ almost unbroken reign in Davao City as mayor in more than three decades. “It’s up to them, the people, to choose me or the political dynasty,” he told the Inquirer.

Lopez said he decided to run to continue the legacy of his father Elias, so far the only Bagobo to serve as mayor in the city from 1967 to 1971; and from 1981 to 1986 before the Edsa People Power ushered in a new set of leaders. It was also the older Lopez who helped the young Rodrigo Duterte win his first election in 1987.

The younger Lopez would be running against Sebastian, who substituted for his sister Sara, after the latter withdrew her bid for reelection as mayor to run as vice president under Lakas-CMD last month.

The fallout

Lopez first entered politics after the death of his father in 1997. He was an ally of the Dutertes until 2007, when he opposed the decision of the then mayor who, while seeking his third term, decided to field his daughter Sara as his vice mayoral running mate.

He said he talked to Rodrigo and told him that the father-daughter tandem would not look good for the city and would destroy the check and balance put in place to guard against corruption in government. “I told him, it was wrong. But when he insisted, I decided that, as a son of my father, I have to dissociate myself from him,” he said.

In the city’s first district, Paolo will face peace advocate of 30 years Maria Victoria Maglana, who also said the city’s voters should have a choice.

Maglana’s peace development work in the last three decades included empowering grassroots communities and campaigning for transparency and increased people’s participation in governance. These she offered to bring about meaningful change in how politics had been run here.

Earlier, a relatively unknown businessman named Jamal Ranon Kanan also filed his candidacy for the same post and had been welcomed by Paolo himself.

—GERMELINA LACORTE 

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