August 26, 2021

Asia

PHILIPPINES: Duterte for VP next year is all sound and fury

BY Bob Herrera-Lim

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( 3 mins)

On Tuesday, 24 August, President Rodrigo Duterte said that he is accepting the endorsement of his party, PDP-Laban, for him to run for the vice-presidency in the 9 May 2022 elections. In justifying his unconventional decision, Duterte said he wanted to “continue the crusade” against illegal drugs and the communist insurgency.

A day after, his daughter, Sara, who is preparing for her own presidential run (with a still unidentified vice-presidential candidate) and is now considered the early front runner, said that the president had informed her of his plans in what she described as “not a pleasant event.” According to Sara, she is being asked either to support her father’s plan to run as the vice- presidential candidate to his factotum, Senator Bong Go, or for her to choose Go as her vice-presidential running mate. She then castigated Duterte and Go, asking them to publicly admit their plans.

What his and Sara’s statements indicate is the maneuvering within the administration by one faction — likely centered around Go — to ensure that they are represented in the next administration, due to the possibility of a malevolent successor scrutinizing their actions and policies. For Duterte, his main worry may be that an adverse administration could allow an investigation into his controversial drug war, not that he is leaving behind an inconclusive campaign against illegal drugs. And it is this group that has been convincing Duterte for the above reasons to become Go’s vice-presidential candidate, since he is not polling well, or for Sara to make Go her running mate.

Meanwhile, Sara’s statement serves two purposes: to deflect the aspirations of this faction and to strengthen the idea that she is independent of her father, thus making her more acceptable to undecided voters. She appears determined to pursue her candidacy, with possibly Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., the son of the former autocrat, as her vice-presidential candidate. Marcos is from the north of the country and balances her southern bailiwick; Go, who hails from her province, provides little to no electoral benefit.

Party conventions are scheduled for September and the filing period for next year’s candidates is only in the first week of October, so any official act by the president will still take several weeks. The two Dutertes are likely to settle this issue between themselves, and it is difficult to see Sara agreeing to a Go candidacy given that it compromises her carefully planned effort to become president. Go, in the end, is unlikely to run against Sara on his own, either as president or an independent vice-president should Sara choose Marcos or another running mate. The non-Sara faction in the administration would likely accept her as their next-best outcome, rather than risk a split that weakens her chances.

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