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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio are seen in this combination photo. Photo: Kyodo

With Duterte, daughter set to vie for the Philippines’ vice-presidency, another option emerges

  • A day after withdrawing her bid for re-election as mayor of Davao City, Sara Duterte-Carpio filed her candidacy on Saturday to run for vice-president
  • Her father President Rodrigo Duterte has said he’s in the running for vice-president too – though some suspect the father-daughter duo have other plans in mind
A whirlwind of last-minute reshuffles and changes ahead of what is shaping up to be one of the Philippines’ most bizarre presidential elections saw President Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter Sara on Saturday enter the race to become vice-president on the same day her father vowed to do likewise – though some suspect not all is as it seems.
A day after withdrawing her bid to run for re-election as mayor of Davao City, Sara Duterte-Carpio filed her certificate of candidacy on Saturday to run for the vice-presidency under the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democratic Party.
Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jnr quickly snapped her up as his running mate, with his spokesman and campaign manager Vic Rodriguez issuing a statement saying that the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas – which is fielding Marcos – had “adopted” Duterte-Carpio as its candidate for vice-president.
Sara Duterte-Carpio, left, pictured in Davao city earlier this week. Photo: AFP

The next few hours saw Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa, who had been put forward as a candidate by President Duterte’s PDP-Laban Party, withdraw from the presidential race to be replaced by his running mate, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go. This left a vice-presidential slot open which Duterte, who had accompanied Senator Go to his candidacy filing, confirmed to reporters he intended to fill.

If Duterte files his certificate of candidacy for the vice presidency on Monday, as presidential communications chief Martin Andanar told reporters, then father and daughter would be left vying for the same post in next year’s polls.

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However, political analyst Roman Casiple told This Week In Asia that he “suspected” the Marcos and Duterte families were still negotiating a “term-sharing agreement” for the six-year presidency that would see Marcos Jnr and Duterte-Carpio take turns in the top job for three years each.

The Duterte-Duterte “tandem” would be a fallback position if negotiations sour, according to Casiple. Such a plan would entail Marcos Jnr being disqualified and Duterte-Carpio becoming president with her father as her second-in-command.

In the Philippines, the president and vice-president are elected separately.

Casiple, who is executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms, said that President Duterte was the type of politician who plans his political moves well in advance while also taking advantage of sudden opportunities.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, left, raises the hand of senator Christopher 'Bong' Go after he filed his candidacy for president on Saturday. Photo: AFP

“He is not impetuous [but] you cannot foresee what he is going to do next,” he said.

Marcos Jnr is the subject of multiple cases filed with the Commission on Elections – which Casiple said “Duterte controls” after appointing six of its seven members – calling for his disqualification citing tax fraud.

If he is disqualified, Lakas-CMD could simply elevate Duterte-Carpio as its presidential candidate while her father runs for the vice-presidency under PDP-Laban, according to Casiple.

“That is not far-fetched if you know [Rodrigo] Duterte,” he said.

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Incumbent Vice-President Leni Robredo, who is also running for president, on Friday denied that the political opposition was behind moves to have Marcos Jnr disqualified. “If the purpose is to knock him out of the race, that is not necessary [because] we fought each other in 2016 and we won without resorting to that,” she said.
Marcos Jnr narrowly lost out on the vice-presidency to Robredo in 2016 and claimed election fraud in a suit that was thrown out by the Supreme Court in February this year.
Duterte refused to acknowledge Robredo as vice-president and in 2018 told a group of businessmen he was “tired” and willing to be replaced, but only by Marcos Jnr once he had won his suit. In its ruling, the Supreme Court pointed out that a pilot recount to prove fraud in four provinces chosen by Marcos Jnr had actually increased Robredo’s lead by more than 15,000 votes.
Leni Robredo, incumbent vice-president of the Philippines, files her candidacy last month for next year’s presidential race. Photo: Xinhua

Vice-presidential candidate Senator Francis Pangilinan, Robredo’s running mate, said Saturday’s reshuffles had not come as a surprise.

“We expected the last minute-substitution and there probably may be a few more,” he said. “Whoever else files, we will simply continue to focus on our campaign preparations.”

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, whom a recent poll identified as the front runner in the vice-presidential race even with Duterte-Carpio running, said he would campaign the “same as before”.

“We are focused on our programmes and platform for good governance. It does not matter to us whoever else is running,” he said.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Duterte, daughter both set to vie for vice-presidency