Sara for President? Cheap talk, says Duterte
DAVAO CITY—President Duterte summarized in two words reports about his daughter, Sara, running for President—cheap talk.
Mr. Duterte said although he had been joking about Sara, who succeeded him as mayor of this city, succeeding him as President as well, Sara was not interested at all in becoming President.
Rumors about Sara running for President in 2022, when her father’s term expires, swirled amid her increasing presence in public events outside the city.
It also didn’t help that Mr. Duterte himself repeatedly denied he was running for President in 2016 until he substituted at the last minute for Martin Diño as standard-bearer of the then moribund PDP-Laban.
Sara’s speaking engagements added fuel to the rumor. Today, she would be a guest at the inauguration of the new town hall of Kapatagan, Lanao del Norte, in Northern Mindanao.
She had also visited Davao Occidental, shortly after leading the launch of a national pro-Duterte alliance late last month in Taguig City, Metro Manila, where she was introduced as “the next President.”
In launching the movement “Tapang at Malasakit Alliance for the Philippines” on Oct. 23, Sara said the group was not her launching pad for a presidential run but was a means to unite Filipinos.
She insisted she would stay in Davao, mentioning a possible run for the House seat in the first district that Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles would vacate.
The denials, however, failed to douse speculations. Critics said another Duterte in Malacañang would be a disaster. Supporters started calling her “Sara, the President” in social media.
“Inday is not interested. I’m telling you the truth,” Duterte said, using Sara’s nickname.
He said Sara did not even want to be mayor and had even tried to resign on July 1 “because of blah, blah, blah.”
“It was a very agonizing moment for me,” Mr. Duterte said. “She really didn’t want it,” he said.
The President said he had to convince Sara to stay on, telling her that people elected her into office and she had to honor it.
On persistent rumors about Sara running for President, Mr. Duterte said: “Would you believe that? It’s just cheap talk.”
Countering the ‘yellows’
He said the movement that Sara launched was to counter Tindig Pilipinas, a group of critics of the Duterte administration that Mr. Duterte had labelled as “yellow,” meaning led by the Liberal Party.
Sara, according to her father, was simply “hurt by criticisms” against the family and accusations of corruption against close relatives.
Mr. Duterte reiterated a denial of his son and son-in-law’s alleged involvement in corruption and invited everyone, except for his toughest critic Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, to take a peek into his bank accounts.
At the height of the 2016 presidential campaign, Trillanes had accused Mr. Duterte of hiding at least P2 billion in several bank accounts.
Mr. Duterte said he had executed a waiver on the secrecy of his accounts, which, he said, remained valid until now.
“I did not put an expiry date on that waiver so you can use it throughout my whole term,” Mr. Duterte said. —FRINSTON LIM
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