Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter and heir apparent has declared that she will not run for the presidency in May 2022 but many remain sceptical after the months of meetings she has held with the country’s major political blocs over the past few months.
Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is currently mayor of Davao, said on Thursday that with her father’s decision to run for vice president, she would not run for the top job.
“I am not running for a national position as we both agreed only one of us will run for a national position in 2022,” Duterte-Carpio said in an interview and a separate statement to the media.
The elder Duterte accepted on Wednesday the nomination of his party for vice president. He is constitutionally barred from seeking a second term as president, and analysts say he wants to circumvent the rules by running for the second-highest post in the country.
His supporters had previously floated the idea of an all-Duterte presidential ticket with Duterte-Carpio running for president, and her father as vice president.
Duterte had previously been the mayor of Davao, and when he was no longer allowed to run for that position because of term limits, he ran as vice mayor, while Duterte-Carpio served as the mayor.
Surveys conducted in recent months have shown the younger Duterte as the frontrunner for the 2022 presidential race.
Huge banners bearing Sara Duterte-Carpio’s image and slogans urging her to run have also appeared across the country. She has done little to quell the speculation, holding meetings with major political blocs and prominent politicians, some of whom have offered to run as her vice president.
On social media, Facebook groups and pages with hundreds of thousands of followers have also popped up with the slogan “Run, Sara, Run”.
Politicians have until October 8 to formally throw their hat in the ring. However, they can still withdraw their candidacy up until November 15 – or they can pull out if they can find another contender to replace them. In 2015, when one candidate dropped out Duterte filed to run for the presidency, having earlier said he was not going to enter the race.
Later on Thursday, when Duterte-Carpio was asked if she would run for president if her father withdrew his vice presidential bid, she told the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper: “(That) is a hypothetical question … without the complete details of the actual scenario, I cannot answer (that) at this point.”
On Wednesday, the PDP-Laban Party nominated President Duterte as its vice presidential candidate, with his most-trusted aide Senator Bong Go as president.
Go, however, declined to accept the nomination. Previously, he had said that he would leave the final decision on running for the presidency to the Duterte family.
In recent months, huge banners urging Sara Duterte-Carpio to run for president in May 2022 have appeared across the country [Al Jazeera]
There is also a split within Duterte’s own political party. Another wing led by international boxing champion Senator Manny Pacquiao has also said it would nominate its own national candidates.
Pacquaio, who is said to be mulling his own presidential run, is expected to make a decision by September 19, according to Ronwald Munsayac, a spokesman from the senator’s faction. Pacquaio also hails from Mindanao in the south, which is currently a Duterte stronghold.
On Thursday, Munsayac was quoted as saying that the announcement by Duterte and Go was a “smokescreen for another candidate in Davao” without mentioning Duterte-Carpio’s name.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News, political analyst Ramon Casiple said that Filipinos should “not believe” Duterte-Carpio’s declarations until the deadline of the filing of candidacy had passed.
Casiple said that Duterte had told him more than a year ago that he wanted his daughter to succeed him as president.
“All these manoeuvrings, all those that you are witnessing today are actually more of a tactic,” he said.
On social media, another political analyst Richard Heydarian, asked about Duterte-Carpio’s declaration, said: “Don’t they have another script?”
With Duterte possibly facing legal action after he leaves office next year, including a probable indictment before the International Criminal Court over his so-called war on drugs, political analysts say the president wants a successor to insulate him from prosecution.
Asked about the family’s plans, Anthony del Rosario, the secretary-general of Duterte-Carpio’s regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago (Alliance for Change), told the state television channel PTV on Friday that it was still possible that President Duterte would have second thoughts about running, and convince his daughter to run.
“We are still optimistic and we are hopeful that the mayor will change her mind come October,” he said.