POSTSCRIPT / March 29, 2022 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Rody to Sara, Paolo: Don’t forget EDSA!

“Remember this night, do not ever forget,” then-Fiscal (Prosecutor) Rodrigo Duterte told daughter Sara, aged 7, and son Paolo, 10, on Feb. 25, 1986. That day, the dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos fled into exile with his family as the People Power revolt peaked.

President Duterte, daughter Sara and son Paolo. Photo: Davao Today/ Arnel Rival.

Today, 36 years later, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte is running for vice president with the late dictator’s son and namesake seeking the presidency. Paolo, now the congressman of Davao’s first district, campaigns for reelection with the Marcos-Duterte UniTeam.

Reminding us of People Power that shattered Marcos’ mailed fist and gave the world the template of a bloodless revolt, Carolyn O. Arguillas, chief editor of MindaNews, wrote this article (condensed here to fit space) tracing the tenuous ties that bind the Dutertes and the Marcoses:

Davao City – On the night of Feb. 25, 1986, when the dictator Ferdinand Marcos was ousted and flown out of Malacañang with his family, some 980 km down south, Fiscal Rodrigo Roa Duterte, turning 41 the following month, woke up his children Sara and Paolo to join fellow Dabawenyos and the rest of the nation in celebrating their first night of freedom.

“I was in dreamland when my father interrupted my slumber and told me to get dressed and go downtown. In the car, he told us, ‘Timan-i ninyo ning gabhiona ni. Ayaw ninyo kalimti’ (Remember this night. Do not ever forget),” recalled Sara on Feb. 24, 2017, reacting to Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas’ message on the 31st commemoration of People Power.

Little did Sara know then that her father – and by extension, their family — would become the biggest beneficiary of that uprising. Plucked out from obscurity by destiny, as he would later say, Duterte was appointed OIC vice mayor when his mother Soledad declined the offer, suggesting instead her son.

Soledad “Nanay Soling” Roa Duterte, a retired public school teacher and widow of Davao Gov. Vicente Duterte (who had served in the Cabinet of President Marcos), was a key figure in the local fight against the dictatorship. She was among the organizers of the local Yellow Friday Movement after the assassination of former Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. in August 1983.

Yellow was the color associated with Aquino’s homecoming from exile, from the song “Tie a yellow ribbon ‘round the old oak tree,” and quickly became the protest color after his murder at the airport now named after him.

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Thirty years after EDSA, on June 30, 2016, Rodrigo Duterte, whom Vicente said would end up a port laborer if he did not shape up, the son who substituted for his mother Soledad as OIC vice mayor, was sworn in as the country’s 16th President, the first Mindanawon to lead the nation.

Nanay Soling’s son, the sixth post-EDSA President, would step down on June 30, 2022, without having attended any of the six EDSA anniversary celebrations during his term.

Duterte was also the president who allowed, within his first five months in office, the burial of the remains of the late dictator in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery) in Taguig City.

Thirty-six years after EDSA, Nanay Soling’s grandchildren — Sara, Paolo and Sebastian (running unopposed for Davao City vice mayor) – and great-grandson Rodrigo Duterte II, all support Marcos Jr., with Sara even running in tandem with him.

The Duterte patriarch did not hide his displeasure that Sara ran for VP when she was leading in the surveys on presidential preferences. He criticized Marcos Jr. as a “weak leader” and has not endorsed him publicly.

The PDP-Laban Party wing that he chairs endorsed Marcos Jr. on March 21 but party officials clarified that was not his endorsement. Duterte also met with Marcos Jr. the other Sunday but Malacañang said that was neither an endorsement.

The support for Marcos Jr. by Duterte’s three children with his first wife Elizabeth Zimmermann has confused his supporters in the barangays in the city, which he served as mayor for 22 years. Like their father and because of him, none of them has suffered defeat at the polls.

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Last November, Duterte initially said he would run for vice president with then-presidential bet Bong Go, his aide since 1998, now a senator. Go initially filed his candidacy for VP but withdrew when Sara filed hers for the same post.

At the Commission on Elections in Manila where he accompanied Go on Nov. 13, Duterte said Sara’s running for vice president was a decision of Marcos Jr., expressing surprise why she was running for VP when she had been topping the surveys.

The next day, Nov. 14, he told vlogger Byron Cristobal or Banat By: “Not once you have heard me say I’ll support Marcos. I never said who I’ll support, whether it’s Marcos or (Sen. Manny) Pacquiao (of the other PDP-Laban wing).”

On Nov. 19, in a meeting with leaders in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro, Duterte was asked if the Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan which is allied with his PDP-Laban wing, would coalesce with the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats that fielded Sara.

Duterte’s reply: “Nandiyan si Marcos eh. Hindi ako bilib sa kanya (Marcos is there. I do not believe in him). He’s really a weak leader. Hindi ako naninira ng tao, talagang weak ‘yan kasi spoiled child, only son. Of course he can talk. He delivers English articulate. Nag-aral kasi kung saan-saan sa labas. Pero kung sabihin mo na may crisis, ganoon?”

“He is a weak leader at saka may bagahe siya. Iyan ‘yang sinasabi ko sa inyo, totoo ‘yan… I do not foist lies. Masisira ka. Pero bantay ka diyan, magkamali ang Pilipinas, na.” the President said.

His daughter Sara and sons Paolo and Sebastian, however, appear to be very much impressed with Marcos Jr.

Sara told supporters in Tagum City, Davao del Norte, last Nov. 21 why she agreed to be Marcos’ running mate: “Sometimes in our lives, we find ourselves to be a leader but sometimes in our lives, we need to stand beside another leader.”

(Read Arguillas’ article in full in the March 25 issue of MindaNews: https://tinyurl.com/3385vz76)

(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 29, 2022)

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