There’s a sense of waiting in the air — as if the campaign season won’t really begin until Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte makes her pitch for the presidency in 2022.
But on Sunday, 24 October, Sara gave people more meat to chew on when she met with presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in Cebu to talk about how her regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) could help his presidential bid.
In response to the furor over photos that came out showing Sara and Bongbong together, the Davao City mayor revealed, as livestreamed on Sunstar Cebu’s Facebook page: “What we talked about is how HNP in (the) Davao Region can help his bid for the presidency.”
She also posted on Facebook: “It’s confirmed that I just met presidential aspirant and former Senator BBM (Bongbong Marcos) at the happy occasion of the birthday of Congresswoman Yedda, wife of House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, in Cebu.”
Not only has this move put another wringer on the PDP Laban Alfonso Cusi faction to get President Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter into their camp, it has also made clear her choice for the top post.
Duterte-Carpio had repeatedly said she won’t be running in the national derby, choosing instead to run for a third time as mayor in Davao City and continue her programs there.
Continuity is also on the minds of the ruling party faction under Cusi. With Sara possibly substituting for Senator Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa by November, the tandem of Sara and Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, there would be no question of that.
So, after Sara’s meet with Bongbong, Bato told CNN Philippines’ News Night he would give way for Sara, and that he urged the mayor to run for president for the “national interest.”
Does Sara, however, have the same mind as her father? This question needs to be asked over the arguments rising over this allegedly much-abused election rule of substitution.
This rule provided to political parties under the Omnibus Election Code buys more time.
It certainly is giving the Duterte camp more time perhaps to convince the survey topnotcher to carry the flag.
Talks of substitution as a strategic ace, as proven in the President’s own ascent to power, have led some leaders to counter with a bill seeking to amend the law allowing this.
The bill proposes that substitution should be “only in case of the death, incapacity or disqualification of a candidate” instead of withdrawal of one’s candidacy.
It’s amusing to note that the senator who filed the bill that would allow Mayor Sara to vie for the top elective post, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, had also presented himself to be interested to run as her VP before.
The winds of politics do change quickly, and loyalties lie where self-interests lie.
This much is clear with the rigodon de amor happening in the Philippine party system come every election.
It’s a game that is played by able-bodied, like-minded political wannabes who understand exactly what former President Erap Estrada once said: “Weather-weather lang.”