Duterte should let Sara fight her own battles

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag - The Freeman

Rodrigo Duterte has a way with his enemies. The former president deals with his enemies in ways that can be threatening, angering, confusing, funny. Sometimes he is on point, sometimes he goes overboard. But there are no two ways about it. You sit up and listen and you do something about it. Sara, on the other hand, has her own way. Maybe because she is far prettier.

Unlike her father, who often goes off on a harangue, the daughter is spare. Sara can let fly with a single punch. Or she can let go with just a word. And boy, what a word the first time she used one in the first year of her vice presidency. Remember “tambaloslos?!” She floored Speaker Martin Romualdez with that one. Some even say it knocked him out.

“Tambaloslos” lingered in the national consciousness far longer than probably even Sara herself imagined. It was precise, it was rare, it has a strange ring to it that made it sound funny beyond the evil it denoted. Call anyone “tambaloslos” and you still get an eerily funny effect regardless of whether you and your target even know what the word meant.

Any and all attacks on Sara Duterte have everything to do with the presidential elections in 2028. It does not matter if Inday Sara actually pursues a bid for the highest office in the land or assumes some other plans for her political future. The only perspective on sale at this point is that she will be running for president so every strategy of the enemy is to thwart it.

Inday does not need to do anything earth-shaking to win the presidency in 2028. Most surveys since assuming the office of the vice president in 2022 have shown her to outrun and outpace all other serious presidential contenders. She has also outperformed all others in performance and trust ratings. Widely believed to be much shrewder than the father, she knows she should not go picking a fight when there is no fight to be picked.

That is why even after Congress deprived her of intelligence funds in the 2024 national budget she did not go to war despite being virtually almost singled out. Inday, quite intelligently discerned, to her credit, that her fights do not start and end with intelligence funds. She has seen that intelligence funds have no bearing on the greater strategies of her political future. They are just perks of an office that can come and go depending on the weather.

And that is why it was consternating to find out that while the daughter stayed clear of being dragged into any protracted nonsense over intelligence funds, the father jumped into the fray and started badmouthing the honorable leaders and members of Congress he accused of being behind the attacks on Sara. Not only did Tatay Digong name some of them, he actually threatened to kill them.

There was a time when the death threats of Duterte were applauded and cheered. They were exhilarating, exciting, sometimes even funny. But maybe because they were said largely in bombast and crowd pumping, tools of the trade for great public speakers even if both the public speaker and his audience can come to terms with certain truths in the speech.

But for Duterte to sit out an entire hour or two on nationwide television and name certain people he says he would love to kill leaves at the very least a bad taste in the mouth coming not just from a former president but from the most popular who ever served his country. Respected wherever he goes out in public, it is difficult to reconcile the swagger of PRRD and the “losing it” of citizen Duterte.

If it is any consolation Inday Sara is not completely her father’s daughter, she has her own mind and follows her own heart. Such divergence is very apparent in the way both handled the intelligence funds flap. I am pretty sure more than just a twist of anxiousness is beginning to step into the war rooms of political strategists who happen to be in the way of the Sara Duterte juggernaut. And it does not seem to help the cause of her main rival that the way to win just still has not been found and just seem to be as elusive as the wind.

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