Duterte dynasty sets sights on 2022 polls

POSTSCRIPT - Federico D. Pascual Jr. - The Philippine Star

Like fentanyl and crystal meth, power and wealth are highly addictive. One who has fallen under their magic spell will keep wanting more.

After five years of consolidating power and amassing untold wealth, Rodrigo Roa Duterte the Davao City mayor-turned-president seems to want more of the same, and at double dose.

Word from the Palace has it that Duterte, who is barred by the Constitution from running for reelection when his six-year term ends in June 2022, is toying with the possibility of running for vice president with his daughter Davao City Mayor Inday Sara for president.

From afar, we see that if elections were to be held next month, the vaunted Duterte-Duterte daughter-dad tandem would trounce all comers hands down. That’s how well they have entrenched themselves, aside from enjoying the equity of the incumbent.

Allowing the duo to run together appears legally tenable to this layman, since both father and daughter possess all the qualifications and none of the disqualifications of any Filipino running for the highest executive positions in the land.

The ban on reelection (Art. VII, Sec. 4) may not apply since President Duterte will not be running for “any reelection,” that is, vying for the same position of president that he is vacating. Neither will they be barred under Art. II, Sec. 26, which “prohibit(s) political dynasties as may be defined by law.”

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Many spectators in this ludicrous political game see the daughter-father tandem as a weird example of a dynasty at work, a socio-political aberration that the Congress has been called upon to stamp out.

More than 32 years after the 1987 Constitution banned political dynasties and instructed the Congress to define what a “dynasty” is, the legislature – itself the hotbed of the staunchest dynasties – has refused or failed to enact a law defining it.

The Dutertes’ bailiwick is Davao City, the largest metropolitan area outside Metro Manila. In the 1960s, lawyer Vicente Duterte, father of Rodrigo, became governor of the then-unified Davao province.

His son Rodrigo (“Digong”) became Davao City mayor in 1988 and served for more than 20 broken years. The mayor earned a reputation as a tough-talking crime buster, thus capturing the imagination of an electorate tired of run-away crime and government corruption.

Digong’s daughter Sara, 43, elected mayor when her father’s three-term limit came, again took over when he ran for president in 2016. Also holding elective posts are his sons Paolo (congressman, Davao City first district) and Sebastian (Davao vice mayor). They have begun to look like a dynasty.

Sara evinces the same temperament as her father, once punching a sheriff whose handling of a demolition she did not like. In 2018, she formed a political party called Hugpong ng Pagbabago (Faction for Change), which won in its first outing nine of the 12 Senate seats at stake in 2019.

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While saying that President Duterte has not chosen Sara as the candidate to replace him in 2022, presidential spokesman Harry Roque conceded in a media briefing that she is among those being considered by her father.

Other presidential material cited by Roque (after Sara whom he mentioned first) were, in this descending order, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, former senator Bongbong Marcos, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and Sen. Bong Go.

In answer to a question, Roque said that Duterte will run for vice president if he receives a message from God/god. We had no idea if his God/god was with a capital letter or not.

With the perceived preference for Sara, Moreno asked why the presidency should be passed on like family inheritance, hinting of a dynastic practice. In contrast, the mayor has no family-based organization for national mobilization.

A Duterte-Duterte pair materializing and winning will recall those years when Sara ran and became Davao mayor because her father had to step aside in view of the three three-year term limit for mayors.

If they both run and win in 2022, will she serve her full six-year presidential term or will she resign after some time to let her father become president again? Will his return to his old post in that manner be legal?

Another interesting scenario is if opposition Vice President Leni Robredo, 56, runs for president and she and Duterte win (the latter as vice president). That combination will see their present roles reversed and her prediction coming true that “the last man left standing is a woman.”

Citizens’ own definition of ‘dynasty’

Way back in May 2013, we cited in “Postscript” a study of the Center for People Empowerment in Governance of, at that time, 178 dominant political dynasties lording it over 73 of 81 provinces. They were like weeds creeping from the yard to the living room.

The study was presented by Prof. Bobby M. Tuazon, CenPeg director for policy studies and a resource political analyst. We checked the center’s website yesterday, but found no updated report on dynasties. We expect a new list to include the Duterte dynasty of Davao.

For the past three decades, the dynasties and the vested interests with whom they are in symbiotic relations have blocked efforts to pass a law defining “political dynasty” as ordered by the Constitution.

The absence of a definition has enabled dynastic clans to entrench themselves, installing even juvenile delinquents to government posts that are passed on to the youngsters like family inheritance, as Moreno lamented.

With the current 18th Congress’ expected failure to legislate a definition, we the people will have to draw up our own definition and reject in the May elections next year any candidate who fits our personal definition. This is assuming the polls will be held as scheduled.

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NB: All Postscripts are also archived at ManilaMail.com. Author is on Twitter as @FDPascual. Email: [email protected]

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