Daughter of Philippine president Duterte to run for vice-presidency

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Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio (AFP via Getty)
Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio (AFP via Getty)

The daughter of Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte has filed her candidacy for the vice-presidency, ending months of speculation about her 2022 election plans yet surprising many observers, as she was considered a potential frontrunner to succeed her father.

Sara Duterte-Carpio, 43, entered the vice-presidential race by way of substitution after her political party Lakas-CMD’s original candidate withdrew, her spokesperson said on Saturday.

Her decision was announced just before Monday’s deadline for candidates to make a late entry into the country’s May elections. President Duterte cannot seek a second term and recently said he would retire from politics, going back on his earlier vow to run for vice-president.

Duterte-Carpio was instantly endorsed by the political party of Ferdinand Marcos Jr – the son and namesake of the late Philippine dictator – to be his running mate as he seeks the top job.

She caused a stir and fuelled speculation about a presidential campaign last week when she abruptly withdrew her candidacy for re-election as mayor of Davao and joined Lakas-CMD, the party controlled by former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Duterte-Carpio’s decision to instead run for the No 2 job came as a shock given that she has led opinion polls throughout this year as the preferred presidential candidate. In the Philippines, the president and vice-president are elected separately, and candidates can forge an alliance even if they run under different parties.

Her eleventh-hour decision mirrored a tactic employed by her father, when a last-minute bid energised his 2016 campaign, leading to a convincing win.

Dr Dennis Coronacion, a political science professor at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, said a candidate who appears reluctant to run for office has more appeal with the public than those who are very vocal about their ambitions.

However, he said the strategy that had served President Duterte so well might not work for Duterte-Carpio this time around, and warned that the impact of the pandemic meant that the 2022 elections would be tougher to predict than usual.

“It’s a totally different set of conditions, so we cannot really say it’s going to be effective again,” he told The Independent.

Duterte-Carpio is cut from the same cloth as her father – she once punched a court official in the face after a dispute, she likes riding motorcycles, and she even shaved her head to support Duterte’s 2016 campaign. Her three children are nicknamed Sharkie, Stingray and Stonefish.

The tough image clearly plays well with the public. “Run, Sara, Run” can be seen on posters, banners and T-shirts across the country, while the slogan has gained traction with Filipinos abroad – a vital source of support for her father.

Following in his footsteps, Duterte-Carpio trained as a lawyer before entering politics. She had two stints as the mayor of Davao, the country’s third-largest city, which is located on the southern island of Mindanao, in 2010 and again in 2016 – succeeding her father on both occasions.

Yet Duterte-Carpio rarely weighed in on national issues while mayor, and she has had limited exposure to international politics. Political analysts say this inexperience may have influenced her decision to run for vice-president ahead of a presidential campaign in 2028.

Apart from Marcos, other 2022 presidential candidates include former boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, vice-president Leni Robredo, mayor of Manila Francisco Domagoso, senator Panfilo Lacson, and President Duterte’s former police chief Ronald dela Rosa.

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