Despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s insistence to cut her out of the picture, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte’s very large shadow again loomed behind the talks of possible administration pairings in the coming 2022 presidential elections.
The Chief Executive last week told a crowd of political leaders and local government officials that his choice for the administration’s standard-bearer is Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, his long-time assistant.
Before becoming a lawmaker in 2019, Go last served Duterte as Special Assistant to the President — a continuation of his duty to Duterte when he served as the Davao City Mayor for more than two decades.
Last Monday, however, the President publicly endorsed Go for the first time.
“He (Go) is my President,” Duterte told his crowd, sending some political leaders within the administration to form themselves into groups that endorsed a Go-Duterte tandem, pairing the Chief Executive as the lawmaker’s vice-presidential partner as reported by Daily Tribune last Friday.
Go, however, played coy on that same Friday. He said he would rather focus on his efforts to contribute to the country’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, which of late has been hampered with delays on the delivery of the vaccines needed to abet government actions to reopen the economy.
Duterte will be with Go today when they receive the first batch of Sinovac vaccines donated by China to the Philippines which will be used by the Department of National Defense to inoculate members and civilian employees of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Go’s response, however, sent some of the administration’s political leaders to fiddle with the Duterte-Duterte pairing, with some of them saying that a Sara-Digong tandem would work as they both enjoy high rankings in the ratings.
On the same Monday when the President had endorsed Go, his daughter Sara emerged as the probable presidential and vice-presidential frontliner of the May 2022 elections based on the OCTA Research conducted on last 26 January to 1 February.
The OCTA survey showed the young Duterte having 22 percent support from the respondents, followed only by the strategically- tied ratings of Senator Grace Poe (13 percent), Senator Manny Pacquiao and former Senator Bongbong Marcos (12 percent), and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso (11 percent).
Vice President Leni Robredo received 5 percent support in that independent survey.
Duterte also leads the vice-presidential race at 14 percent, followed closely by Moreno and Pacquiao at 11 percent each, and Poe at 10 percent.
President Duterte, however, has repeatedly said that he does not want his daughter in the presidential equation.
“I pity her (if she runs). Politics here is obscene,” he said.
Yet, while the Duterte-Duterte pairing was pushed, the political leaders were also in agreement that they will support a Sara-Bong Go tandem should the Dutertes and Go agree to it.
“It’s part of the possibilities. It’s really possible,” a Palace source told the Tribune.
Despite the hoopla caused by the early sorties in the major cities by Davao Mayor’s supporters, Sara Duterte is said to remain adamant in leading her party Hugpong ng Pagbabago’s 2022 ticket.
“She really doesn’t want to. Maybe when the clamor grows further, she may reconsider,” the Palace source said.
Secretary Salvador Panelo, the President’s Chief Legal Counsel, also reiterated that Sara Duterte is not warm to the idea of being the administration’s standard-bearer.
“Ayaw nga ni Sara e (She does not want to run),” Panelo told a Tribune query on Saturday.
“I’ll discuss that pairing (Sara-Bong Go) extensively during my (online) program (Counterpoint) tomorrow,” Panelo added.
It is not also clear if the President’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP) will field Sara Duterte as its presidential candidate. Pacquiao is said to be being groomed by other party leaders to become the PDP standard-bearer.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, the PDP vice chairman, also begged off from talking politics, saying the party members’ focus is on the economy and the fight against Covid-19.
“My advisory to the PDP members is to set aside politics first and instead help PRRD (President Duterte) in our (anti-Covid) vaccination campaign.”
Under this direction, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco also begged off from giving his comment on the pairing floated by Malacañang officials when he was asked by Daily Tribune.
Sara Duterte’s camp also kept mum on the matter as it did many times when the issue of her possible journey into national politics was asked of her.
It was clear, however, that President Duterte will field a complete administration ticket in the next national elections.
“He wants continuity (of his programs),” the same Palace source told Daily Tribune.
Two weeks ago, the President had publicly endorsed some of the possible senatorial candidates he vowed to support.
“Whoever is with the President when he attends sorties outside of Malacañang (will be part of the senatorial ticket),” the official said.
Among the President’s regular companions in provincial sorties were Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, and Cusi. Panelo was also mentioned as a possible senatorial candidate in the President’s ticket. (With Sundy Locus, Michelle Guillang and MJ Blancaflor)