DAVAO CITY—Even though his sister Mayor Sara Duterte is still on leave, presidential son and Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte also filed a leave of absence for unspecified reasons and appointed the city’s top councilor as acting mayor until he and his sister return.
City information officer Jefry Tupas said Duterte appointed Councilor Bernard Al-ag as acting mayor until the end of his leave which coincides with the day his sister’s leave also ends. Both are expected at city hall on Monday morning.
Also on Wednesday, Sara herself sent a text message to journalists saying she will not be attending the first State of the Nation Address of her father, President Rodrigo Duterte.
Paolo also said he will not be attending the event although witnesses said he had just fitted bespoken clothes for the event earlier this week.
The developments raised eyebrows in this city of 1.5-million people, who are used to the sometimes stormy relationship between the President and his children.
Friends of the Duterte family said the relationship with his children has been flaky since the President had his marriage with their mother, Elizabeth Zimmerman, legally annulled in 1988.
Zimmerman herself does not hide her dislike for the President’s current partner Cielito Avanceña and even requested the Presidential Management Staff, headed by long-time Duterte aide Christopher Go, to ensure that she be seated with her children some distance from Avanceña.
On July 1, Sara was ready to meet journalists for her first press conference since being elected to the mayor’s office for the second time, but the press conference was delayed when she was asked to meet with his brother Paolo and Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno.
After the meeting, however, Sara no longer appeared at the venue of the press conference and Paolo appeared in her stead to announce that she would be going on leave until July 22.
The incident raised speculation that Sara was being prepared to assume the responsibilities of a first lady to her father, but Sara issued a statement saying her leave was due to a personal matter and had nothing to do with Malacañang or her father.