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Duterte daughter quits Davao mayoralty race

DAVAO City Mayor and presidential daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio

By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter

DAVAO City Mayor and presidential daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio on Tuesday withdrew her bid for reelection, which allows her to potentially run for higher office.

She announced her quitting in a Facebook post with her photo at a local Commission on Elections office. She did not give a reason for the move.   

Ms. Carpio said her brother, Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte, would run for the city’s top post instead. He quit his reelection bid earlier in the day also without citing a reason. The presidential son is on his first term and was running for a second term unopposed. 

Ms. Carpio, who has said she would not run for a national position next year, might run in tandem with the late dictator’s son Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr., according to political analysts.

She and former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. met in Cebu last month, fueling speculations that the two were preparing to cement their tandem for the 2022 elections.

She confirmed her meeting with Mr. Marcos in photos she shared on her social media accounts.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte last month dropped out of the vice-presidential race and said his daughter would run for president next year, in tandem with Senator Christopher Lawrence T. Go. The president also said he was retiring from politics next year.

Ms. Carpio had declined to comment on her father’s announcement.

Mr. Duterte, who had flip-flopped on his 2016 presidential run, earlier said he would drop out of the vice-presidential race if his daughter runs for president.

“This development was actually expected given that the substitution period is still open,” said Maria Ela L. Atienza, a political science professor from the University of the Philippines.

Ms. Carpio, whose regional party has allied itself with traditional parties less than a year before the 2022 elections, has topped presidential opinion polls.

She may still run for a national post via substitution, which allows a political party to replace a member who filed a certificate of candidacy with another member. Filing ended on Oct. 8 but substitution is allowed until mid-November.

Ms. Carpio would need to become a member of the ruling PDP-Laban if she were to substitute for its presidential bet Senator Ronald M. Dela Rosa, Ms. Atienza said in a Viber message. She may also replace Mr. Go as PDP-Laban’s vice-presidential candidate.

A Duterte-Marcos rivalry for president would divide their supporters, she said.

On the other hand, a potential Marcos-Duterte tandem would be “a strong team in terms of current supporters and resources,” Ms. Atienza said. “However, neutral voters may be getting tired of all the drama surrounding Sara and Bongbong and their supporting cast.”

“For the opposition, a Sara-Bongbong or Bongbong-Sara team may be harder to beat and some adjustments in the campaign might be needed,” she added.

There’s a strong chance for Ms. Carpio to run in tandem with Mr. Marcos since she already expressed support for the latter’s presidential campaign, said Robin Michael Garcia, a political economy professor at the University of Asia and the Pacific.

“Mayor Sara knows she has a good chance of winning for any higher position next year,” he said in a Facebook Messenger chat. “Perhaps her perceived hesitance is to ensure the optimal conditions are set for a potential higher leadership position.”

Other political observers have said the administration is trying to create an impression that a Duterte brand of leadership was still needed.

Political analysts earlier said Filipinos might now be wary of substitution, which Mr. Duterte used in the 2016 presidential race. His presidential run did not become official until the last minute.

They also said the ruling camp might be doing everything to remain in power to protect Mr. Duterte from potential lawsuits.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has ordered an investigation of Mr. Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs that has killed thousands, saying crimes against humanity might have been committed.

The court will also probe vigilante-style killings in Davao City when Mr. Duterte was still its vice mayor and mayor.

There have been speculations that the Dutertes would consider the son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos as either a presidential or vice-presidential candidate.

Political analysts have said Mr. Duterte could not afford to lose support from the Marcoses because their loyal backers supported his presidential bid in 2016.

A recent Pulse Asia Research poll showed that Ms. Carpio and Mr. Marcos were among the top choices for president. — with Maya M. Padillo