"Three probable candidates are women."
Twenty-one months before the next presidential election, there already are indications of who will likely be seeking the nation’s highest position in the May 2022 electoral exercise. Three of the four probable candidates are women. They are Vice President Leni Robredo, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and Senator Cynthia Villar. The lone man is Senator Panfilo Lacson.
Because she is its titular head, the Liberal Party is bound to field Vice President Robredo as its standard bearer in the 2022 presidential election. Yet another product of the impractical system under which Filipinos are allowed to vote for a President and Vice President from different parties, Robredo’s relations with President Rodrigo Duterte have ranged from civility to outright hostility.
Despite her being a veritable fifth wheel, Robredo has courageously led the Liberal Party—the major opposition party—during the last four years. With the experience and confidence that she has gained in the vice presidency, and with the respect and trust that she now enjoys among the Liberal Party faithful, Leni Robredo is unlikely to face a serious challenge to her quest for her party’s nomination for presidential candidate.
Although there has been a lot of shilly-shallying on the subject of a Sara Duterte run for the presidency, and although President Duterte has publicly advised his elder daughter against running for the office he now holds, a Sara Duterte run for the presidency definitely cannot be ruled out. Davao City’s mayor is young, has administrative experience, is professionally qualified—she is an Ateneo-trained lawyer. Most important of all, she will have the Duterte coalition machinery and resources supporting her. A Sara Duterte candidacy will be a tough nut for the opposition to crack.
The candidate who gets the number-one spot in the election for senators almost always gets to believe that, with his or her big mandate, he or she is destined for an elective position higher than senator. Although she has repeatedly dismissed suggestions that she has any intention to run for president, Cynthia Villar, who topped the 2016 senatorial election, almost certainly is no exception to the rule. Besides the 22 million votes that she obtained in 2016, a desire to avenge her husband Manny’s loss in the 2010 presidential election might be something that will push the former mayor of Las Piñas City to join the 2022 contest. Given Manny Villar’s status as this country’s wealthiest individual, sufficiency of resources would not be a problem for Cynthia Villar.
With no other strong male contender in sight, Senator Panfilo Lacson has probably been thinking of a third run for the presidency in 2022. The former chief of the Philippine National Police, has on several occasions, taken positions clearly supportive of President Duterte, but he has on the whole treaded a senatorial path that has been independent and statesmanlike.
If Lacson decides to go for another run for the presidency in 2022, he will be up against three powerful female opponents.