DAVAO City Mayor Inday Sara to succeed her father Rodrigo Duterte as president? Considering the electorate that we have, that’s possible!
With many stressed Filipinos having grown weary, and with our political immune system critically low at this time, many of us may just resign to a strong-willed woman like Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio taking over.
Campaigning nationwide for a senatorial ticket in the midterm May elections, the 40-year-old Sara is able to market herself as a viable successor of her president-father when his term ends in 2022 by law or his tenure is cut short by divine intervention.
Suddenly, Sara (Inday to her dad) has found a national stage to maximize exposure and project the same tough qualities of a populist leader that carried her father Rodrigo (Digong to his followers) to victory in the 2016 presidential election.
Tuesday last week, Inday Sara was in San Fernando, Pampanga, launching the campaign of her Hugpong ng Pagbabago (Group for Change) that has gone outside its regional base to endorse kindred national candidates and spread its influence.
On Sunday, after presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo conceded the possibility of her succeeding her 73-year-old father, Sara told the press:
“I do not plan on running for President, because everything in my life is far from what I have envisioned. I studied to be a doctor and then I became a lawyer. I wanted to be a housewife, but I am now a politician. I have learned that my life is not mine, it is always God’s will, in God’s time, and planning is futile.”
Note the masterful invoking of “God’s will” – a vast improvement on her father’s ramblings against a “stupid God.”
An indication of the clout and political skill of Sara was her behind-the-scenes plot that ousted then House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and installed Pampanga Rep. Gloria M. Arroyo. President Duterte, who was for Alvarez, did not dare veto his daughter’s choice.
If physical fitness is another criterion, we just have to recall how an exasperated Sara once punched a sheriff in Davao who reportedly could not follow instructions. Panelo recently told reporters that she is “formidable, intelligent, courageous – braver than the President, I heard.”
Sara’s political persona, however, is still intertwined with that of her father-president whose staying power hangs on his maintaining the trust of the 16 million voters who chose him in 2016 over his rivals for the presidency.
Despite scattered critical noise on social media (much of traditional media have been coopted, compromised or coerced), Duterte appears still enjoying a substantial segment of his original support base. This bodes well for a possible Sara takeover.
The slow boil of public discontent and the political opposition’s fatal lack of an alternative program and a charismatic leader are prolonging the shelf life of Duterte despite his poor performance on crime and corruption — the key planks of his platform — and the gut issues of jobs and prices of food and fuel.
While the midterm May vote is not for picking a new president, it could very well be a presidential referendum. But if not Duterte, who?
This question raised by voters impatient for meaningful change highlights the opposition’s lack of a rallying figure, a leader with stature and solid credentials who could repair the damage that the abrasive former Davao mayor has wrought on the nation’s psyche.
While the populace is looking for an alternative leadership and program, here comes a carefully packaged Inday Sara poised as the ready answer to the question “If not (Rodrigo) Duterte, who?”
For lack of anybody else who fits the bill – and with Duterte followers dominating the space — many of those crying for change may just start seeing in Digong’s tough Zimmerman daughter the answer to that question.
Of course there is Vice President Leni Robredo who – under constitutional succession — must step in if a permanent vacancy occurs in the presidency before June 30, 2022. These speculations about a possible Sara presidency are premised on extra-constitutional, unconstitutional, and post-June 2022 scenarios.
• Dennis Uy reacts to reclamation report
WE’VE received an email from Adel Tamano, vice president for corporate affairs of Udenna Corp., which was mentioned in our Postscript of Feb. 7 on the massive reclamation projects threatening to smother the iconic Manila Bay enjoyed by generations of Filipinos and foreigners. He said:
“The Udenna Group wishes to address statements made in your column ‘Postscript’ published on the Philippine Star on February 7, 2019.
“Referring to our founder and chairman, Mr. Dennis Uy, the column read in part: ‘It is interesting that one bay reclamation project has been awarded to Dennis Uy, a fast-rising star from Davao City described as a crony of the President.’
“It further noted: ‘Uy’s project reportedly has seen some delay in the National Economic and Development Authority. But under EO-74, reclamation ventures will no longer need NEDA approval but only its opinion as to their being consistent with national and regional development planning and programming, and government national priorities.’
“We would like to inform you that said reclamation project is being pursued by a consortium called Pasay Harbor City Corporation and that our property development arm, Udenna Development Corp. only owns a small 5-percent share in the group.
“The proposed reclamation is undergoing proper evaluation and the consortium remains committed to adhere to the government’s requirements and the legal and regulatory process.
“We would also like to note that Udenna’s participation in the proposed reclamation was driven by, among others, an objective of creating jobs, investing in the Philippine economy, and addressing decongestion in Metro Manila.”
(FDP: For proper context, we invite readers to read our Postscript of Feb. 7, 2019, at https://tinyurl.com/ya9fdf9q )