"Will it be a case of like-father-like-daughter?"
Despite her hemming and hawing on the matter, the mayor of Davao City will very likely be a candidate for President in next year’s election. The explanation is quite simple: 2022 is a run-now-or-forever-hold-your-peace situation for Sara Duterte. She is what she is today, and six years after 2022 she will not have the clear edge over the other 2022 presidential candidate (or candidates) that has today.
Many Filipino voters are attracted to the idea of a Sara Duterte candidacy for the Presidency of the Republic. The wife of lawyer Manasese Carpio is, after all, young, personable, and possessed of solid educational credentials and ample administrative experience. But the attraction hits a roadblock when the thought of her being President Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter comes to their minds.
Then they start asking themselves questions. Will she be able to function as an independent person, or will she just be an extension of Rodrigo Duterte? WIll given Filipino culture and the attendant circumstances, will the daughter really be able to stand up to the father?
These questions are nagging the leaning-toward-Sara voters, and they want early answers to them so that they can decide in an informed way whether to stick with Mayor Sara or switch to another 2022 candidate.
Sara Duterte should not—nay, cannot afford to—leave her admirers guessing as to where she stands on the major policy issues that her father is having to contend with. In essence, what they want to know is whether, if elected president, she will maintain President Duterte’s policies and positions on major national issues.
For instance, will she maintain her father’s pivot to China and allow that country to continue disregarding the sovereign rights conferred on the Philippines by this country’s victory in the 2016 Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling on the West Philippine Sea issue. The leaning-toward-Sara voters want a clear and unequivocal statement from Davao City’s mayor. If she is not prepared to declare that her administration will take credible steps to protect this country’s rights, Sara Duterte is bound to lose their support.
Sara Duterte’s present supporters also want to know where she stands on her father’s bloody war against the illegal drugs trade. Will she maintain her father’s signature policy, which has resulted in thousands of highly questionable killings, or will she tell the PNP (Philippine National Police) that enough is enough and the extra-judicial killings must stop? Will Sara Duterte be able to stand up to her tough former-mayor Daddy?
How about this country’s relations with its traditional No. 1 ally, the U.S.? Will Sara Duterte maintain her father’s hostile attitude toward the country that is standing between China and the Philippines? Repeated surveys have shown that the great majority of Filipinos trust America and distrust China, and the leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is unhappy with the suspension of the Visiting Forces Agreement and other Duterte administration moves against the U.S. Will it be a case of like-father-like-daughter?
Finally, how about Malacanang’s relations with the business community? Will a President-elect Sara Duterte be as personalistic as her father toward the business community, or will she switch to a policy of making business-related decisions solely on the basis of what is best for the nation?
Voters who are otherwise attracted to Davao City’s mayor want to be assured that her administration if it comes into being, will not be a Rodrigo Duterte II administration. She can disabuse them of this belief by providing, at the earliest opportunity, forthright and clear answers to the questions posed here. Otherwise, she will find those potential supporters drifting away.