Espinoza: To run or not, Sara in January 2021

Elias Espinoza

POLITICAL watchers were unsure whether the advice of President Rodrigo Duterte for his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, not to run for president in the May 2022 presidential polls was sincere or was just another gimmick, just like what he did when he ran and won the presidential elections in 2016. He kept denying that he was running, until someone submitted on his behalf his certificate of candidacy (COC) for president.

The presence of Mayor Sara during the blessing and inauguration of MV Lite Ferry Five in Cebu City on Monday somehow supported suspicions that she has the burning desire to run for president in the May 2022 presidential elections, and that she has been visiting other big cities. MV Lite Ferry Five is set to serve the route from Oslob, Cebu to Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte.

In an interview on Friday by GMA 7, Duterte was again persuading his daughter Mayor Sara not to run for president. I don’t doubt the sincerity of President Duterte on his advice to his daughter as he was only publicly expressing his fatherly concern over his daughter’s welfare, realizing now that the presidency is not an easy job.

In an exclusive interview by GMA 7, the President said, “Maawa ako sa anak ko, natikman ko na ang presidency.” He said, “Do not believe the clamor of the people because when the water gets rough, you find that you are the only one sailing the lonely sea.”

In the previous public statements of the President, either he was joking or not, but he said he would have turned over the presidency to former Sen. Bongbong Marcos had he won the vice-presidential elections over VP Leni Robredo because he is tired. That statement was considered by many as a jab at House Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano, who was the President’s runningmate in the 2016 elections, but he lost.

To recall, the President sometime in 2018 said that his daughter Sara could succeed him in the presidency. But after three years in office, he suddenly changed his mind and told Mayor Sara to forget her plans to run for president in 2022.

Mayor Sara, during the 2019 midterm elections, organized and founded the Hugpong ng Pagbabago, which created a kink among the leaders of PDP-Laban, the party of President Duterte, because some local candidates, who belong to PDP-Laban, allied with the Hugpong of Sara. Unfortunately, most of those identified with Hugpong did not win the May 13, 2019 polls.

When Mayor Sara founded Hugpong ng Pagbabago, almost all elected local officials and those who wanted to be close to the powers-that-be joined and became members. The inevitable conclusion was that Mayor Sara was preparing for a bigger event, which is the presidential elections in May 2022, the end of her father’s term as the 16th President of the Republic.

In several gatherings that Mayor Sara attended, her supporters always hyped her as the next president after her father. Sometime in February, in the midst of the clamor of her supporters for her to run for president in 2022, Mayor Sara said running for president is a decision that requires a lot of thought and that she might come up with an answer by January 2021.

To the old hands in politics, to decide to run a year before the elections would be a little late. But Mayor Sara promised to give her decision by January 2021. She, perhaps, could only be following the tactics of her father, who decided to run for president just days before the closing of the filing of the COC with the Commission on Elections.

I think the decision of Mayor Sara to run for president in the May 2022 polls would largely depend on the result of the pending election protest of Marcos against VP Robredo before the Supreme Court. Let’s wait for Sara’s decision in January 2021 if she would follow in her father’s footsteps.