Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio just needed a "big push" from her father to run for President, Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa said late Saturday in a radio interview.
"There is only one key for her running —President (Rodrigo) Duterte who will plead to her, no other. It's a matter between father and daughter,” Dela Rosa, the surprise candidate for president of the ruling PDP-Laban, told radio DWIZ.
As a late filer for the presidential race next year, the former national police chief himself admitted that it would be better if Duterte-Carpio would run in his stead, as most political pundits have forecast.
Although political parties have until November 15 to nominate replacement candidates for national or local positions, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Saturday Duterte-Carpio would not be one of them.
“She said there will be no substitution,” Roque said -- even as reports broke Saturday that Duterte-Carpio had contracted COVID-19 and would be required to quarantine for two weeks.
In an interview over SMNI News Channel posted on Facebook Saturday, Duterte also discounted the possibility that his daughter would heed her supporters’ clamor to seek the presidency.
“Inday is definitely out as she has said earlier and for theoft-repeated statements in so many…I think interviews, she'd always maintain that she's not running. She was just true to her words,” he said.
Despite Sara’s decision to finish her last term as mayor, Duterte said his daughter could still seek a higher government post in the future.
“Inday is young, and there will always be some opportunities in the future for her. Not necessarily the presidency, but one of those options in life, especially if you'd think of the imponderables of life, we really don’t know,” he added.
Sara filed her COC to run for her third term as mayor of Davao City on Wednesday.
While the President and his daughter stood their ground on their words, Dela Rosa said the matter involved here “is the future of our country.”
"I hope she will still change her mind," said the senator, who served as PNP chief and Bureau of Corrections director under the Duterte administration.
"Regardless of her hardline stance in not seeking the presidency, once she realizes that the fate of our country is at stake here, and the majority of our people want her to lead the country, she will change her mind," Dela Rosa added.
He is ready to give way to the presidential daughter if that is the decision of the ruling party, he added.
“Everything is possible as long as it's legal. I think it (substitution) should no longer be questioned. Anything can happen. It depends if Unday Sara wants to run and accept the offer of PDP.
There's no problem though she is not a member of PDP, she can be a member.”
But Dela Rosa said he was not aware if there are efforts from the Cusi faction of PDP-Laban to talk to the Davao mayor to lead the party in the coming elections.
"I don’t know if there are efforts, but if there are efforts, they would come from the President," he said.
Meanwhile, Davao City public information officer Jefry Tupas said Duterte-Carpio has mild COVID-19 symptoms and is in isolation.
"The family requests for complete privacy at this time and respectfully urge the public to refrain from sending tokens for well wishes," Tupas said in a statement.
The Davao mayor called on those who had close contact with her for the last 14 days to self-monitor and take a reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test five to seven days after their contact with her.
It was not yet known if Duterte had contact with her father.
Mayor Duterte has been in lockstep with her father, following him into law and succeeding him as a city mayor. Now, she's leading the race to replace Rodrigo Duterte as president.
So far, the feisty politician, who once punched a court sheriff in front of TV cameras, has rejected calls to seek the country's highest office, insisting she wants to serve another term as Davao city mayor.
Supporters have plastered "Run Sara Run" posters and tarpaulins across the country, held rallies and posted thousands of messages urging the 43-year-old to change her mind.
In a cryptic Facebook post on Saturday -- the day after the deadline for registering as a candidate -- Sara thanked her supporters who turned up at the Manila registration site for national positions, including president.
"Although I was not at the Sofitel (hotel), you did not lose hope and patience during the wait," she said, hours before her office announced she had tested positive for COVID-19. "For this I offer my heartfelt thanks."
The elder Duterte has not named a successor but indicated recently Sara would run alongside his longtime aide Senator Christopher Go.
While Sara missed Friday's closing date, analysts say she has until Nov. 15 to make a late entry into the presidential race – like her father did in 2015.
Sara, known for her quick temper and fondness for big motorbikes, was in first place in the latest Pulse Asia poll of voter preferences for president. She was followed by Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the son and namesake of the late dictator, celebrity mayor Francisco Domagoso and boxing legend Manny Pacquiao. All except Sara have declared they will run for the top job.
Sara entered politics in 2007, serving three years as vice mayor while her father was mayor of Davao -- the family stronghold on the southern island of Mindanao.
They swapped positions for the next three years and she again succeeded him as mayor in 2016 when he won the presidency.
Some doubt Sara's support in the polls will translate into election victory, saying she lacks the charisma and humor of her father – key traits in a country where personality trumps policy.
"She's drawing strength because she's the daughter of the president," Pulse Asia research director Ana Maria Tabunda said.
Analysts say Sara is not a carbon copy of her father, who surveys show remains almost as popular as when he swept to victory in 2016 on a promise to rid the country of drugs.
She lacks his "folksiness" and that could hurt her appeal, said political analyst Tony La Vina.
"She is more distant and she is not warm," La Vina added. "I suspect her lead will evaporate during the campaign as she will not rise up to the charm of the father."
Sara would be a more moderate version of Duterte, who earned infamy for his foul-mouthed tirades and deadly drug war that has killed thousands of people and is now being investigated by the International Criminal Court.
"I don't think Sara Duterte will be a puppet or proxy of her father," said political analyst Richard Heydarian.
"She's a very spirited person, she has her own mind, she has her own base, she has her own team and has a very different approach to governance to her father."
Sara would "try to strike her own course" on policies, including the anti-narcotics crackdown and relations with superpowers China and the United States, Heydarian added.
Duterte previously warned his daughter against running for president, saying the job was "not for women.”
After he declared in August that he would seek the vice presidency, Sara said she would not run because of an agreement that only one family member would contest a national post.
Duterte later changed his mind and announced he was retiring from politics, paving the way for his daughter's potential entry into the presidential race.
While there has been friction between the pair, analysts say Sara would likely protect her father from criminal charges in the Philippines, and ICC prosecutors.
"She may not like him very much... (but) he's still family and if you can't take care of your father no one is going to trust you," a long-time observer told Agence-France Presse, asking to remain anonymous.