November 30, 2022

Sara Duterte joins Arroyo’s political party ahead of Philippine presidential bid

MANILA – The daughter and political heiress of President Rodrigo Duterte withdrew on Thursday (November 11th) from the powerful coalition she had led since 2019 in what could be a prelude to her own candidacy for the presidency or vice-presidency under the wings of former President Gloria Arroyo.

In a handwritten note, Mrs. Sara Duterte-Carpio announced that she was resigning from her position as President of Hugpong ng Pagbabago (Caucus for Change).

“My support will always be with you and I will always be grateful for everything you have taught me,” she said.

Later that day, she was sworn in as an executive of Ms Arroyo’s political party, Lakas (Force).

“I am confident that with Mayor Sara’s exceptional leadership, she can help our party chart a new course that will ensure a brighter future for our children and the next generation,” said Lakas President Martin Romualdez.

Ms Duterte-Carpio, 43, quit Hugpong even as she met Ms Arroyo, 74, and a large contingent of Lakas politicians at a posh, members-only resort 100km east of the capital Manila.

His decision to leave Hugpong is seen as politically expedient. She cannot run under Hugpong because the coalition, being a regional party, cannot – and has not – fielded presidential and vice-presidential candidates. It can only field candidates for local positions such as mayor, governor, and congressman.

But Ms Duterte-Carpio can run for president under Lakas because the party has a “fictitious candidate” she can replace.

The electoral commission allows parties to “replace” the candidates they fielded last month with new candidates by next Monday.

Lakas had nominated an obscure politician to be his presidential candidate, and Ms Duterte-Carpio is now expected to take that candidate’s place.

If she decides to run for president, it will pit her against former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the 64-year-old son and namesake of the late dictator with whom she said she was seeking an alliance.

For months, Ms Duterte-Caprio has denied having any vested interest in succeeding her father as president. Her political future for a time seemed destined to end in Davao City, with her serving three more years as mayor.

She signed up to run for re-election as mayor of Davao last month, insisting the last thing she wanted was to be in the middle of a long and grueling national campaign.

She also fueled the rhetoric that she was supporting Mr Marcos after he called on his Hugpong supporters to help him in his campaign.

But, Tuesday, November 9, she suddenly announced that she was withdrawing her candidacy for mayor without specifying her future plans.

Then came his meeting with Ms Arroyo and his resignation from Hugpong on Thursday.