3 Dutertes target Senate; youngest eyes Palace next

3 Dutertes target Senate; youngest eyes Palace next

/ 05:05 AM June 26, 2024

3 Dutertes target Senate; youngest eyes Palace next

The Duterte siblings, Sara, Paolo and Sebastian, take a selfie with their father in the background during President Duterte’s oathtaking on June 30, 2016. —file photo

MANILA, Philippines — Not one, not two, but three members of the Duterte family will run for senator in the May 2025 midterm elections.

And the youngest of them will later gun for the presidency in 2028, according to Vice President Sara Duterte.

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She spoke of the plans of her Davao City-based political household in an ambush interview on Tuesday, a week after she stepped down as education secretary.

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Her resignation from the Cabinet punctuated long-running speculations about her strained ties with President Marcos, who had her as his running mate in the 2022 elections under the “UniTeam” coalition.

READ: VP Duterte: My priority now is DepEd transition, not politics

Sara Duterte said her father, former President Rodrigo Duterte, and her two brothers, Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte and Mayor Sebastian “Baste” Duterte, would seek seats in the Senate next year.

“All of them are raring to run,” she told reporters in Cagayan de Oro, where the Office of the Vice President held a Pride Month event.

“My mother told me that my brother, Baste Duterte, will run for senator and he will run in 2028 (for) president,” Sara added.

As to her own political future, Sara said that, upon their mother’s advice, she would return as Davao City mayor in 2028.

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This plan, if it holds, would run counter to widely held expectations that she would target Malacañang to be Marcos’ successor.

‘Threat’ vs turncoats

Consider it both a “show of force” and “a threat,” especially to former Duterte allies who “betrayed” her and her father when Marcos took over, said Jean Encinas-Franco, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman.

“This is a message to the President and his allies as much as it is a message to their supporters that they are not down and out, that they are still there,” Franco told the Inquirer.

“Because why would they leave Davao?” she added, referring to the Duterte bailiwick.

Backs on the wall

The family also wants to “maximize” the “Duterte brand” of politics up to 2028, which Franco said remained popular for segments of the electorate.

“They want to continue the things they are enjoying, whatever it is they are having right now. So, the more, the better, for more chances of winning,” Franco added.

For political analyst Ronald Llamas, having three Dutertes join the Senate derby is an act of desperation.

“It could be seen as a desperate move to consolidate and prevent their sagging fortunes from totally disappearing,” Llamas said in a separate interview. “As you can see, they have their backs on the wall and their national and local political base is dissipating.”

He noted that some Duterte allies in the Senate had begun to “jump” ship, same had “almost 98 percent” of their other supporters.

The Dutertes, Llamas said, may have also become wary of the investigation being pursued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) into the former president’s brutal war on drugs, a matter currently being scrutinized by a House inquiry.

“Let us not forget the elephant in the room—the ICC—which is coming soon. So what will you do? You are desperate. Disrupt everything, turn the tables so you can make a mess,” he said.

“So, they are very desperate. You have to make a move that is something out of the box, you have to make something disruptive. And this is classic Duterte disruption,” Llamas added.

‘Digong 2.0’

As for Sebastian’s supposed plan to run for president in 2028, this was not surprising since the incumbent Davao City mayor had long been packaged as “Digong 2.0,” Llamas added, referring to the elder Duterte by one of his nicknames.

“He is the one who is very similar to Digong, more than Sara. And I won’t be surprised that all are focused on Sara while Baste will rise in the surveys and [be] the one eventually being pushed [to run],” Llamas said.

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For Maria Ela Atienza, also a political science professor at UP Diliman, the Vice President’s statements would all boil down to one thing: “They do not care about parties, programs and ideologies. Every move they make is about protecting the interest of the family, to the detriment of democratic institutions.”

TAGS: 2025 midterm polls, Paolo Duterte, Rodrigo Duterte, Sara Duterte, Sebastian Duterte

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