Five things to know about Philippine President Duterte's daughter

·5 min read
FILE PHOTO: Sara Duterte, Davao City Mayor and daughter of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, delivers a speech during a senatorial campaign caravan for Hugpong Ng Pagbabago in Davao City

By Karen Lema

MANILA (Reuters) -Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's surprise retirement from politics after his term ends next year has cleared the way for his daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio's presidential run.

Below are five things to know about Duterte-Carpio.

WHO IS SARA DUTERTE-CARPIO?

Just as her father did, Duterte-Carpio, 43, trained as a lawyer before entering politics in 2007 when she was voted in as her father's vice mayor.

In 2010, she succeeded Duterte to become the first female mayor of Davao, a city of over 1.6 million people 1,000 km (600 miles) from the capital Manila, replacing her father who served as mayor for over two decades.

Her image is as down-to-Earth as that of her father in a country where tough plays well: She once punched a court official who challenged her; she rides big motorcycles; and her children are nicknamed Sharkie, Stingray and Stonefish.

She is also no stranger to presidential events and overseas trips, serving as first lady due to her father's annulled marriage.

WHAT IS SHE SAYING?

Duterte-Carpio last month said she was not yet a candidate https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/duterte-daughter-denies-philippine-succession-interest-expectation-rises-2021-09-09 for higher office because she and her father had agreed only one of them would run for a national role next year.

Reflecting that statement, she filed on Saturday to run for Davao mayor for a third time. The same day, however, her father announced his retirement from politics https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/philippine-president-duterte-says-he-is-retiring-politics-2021-10-02 and said his daughter would run for president, with his closest loyalist, Senator Christopher "Bong" Go as vice president.

Her spokesperson told Reuters that she had no comment on the matter and knew only what was reported in local media.

In July, Duterte-Caprio launched a Facebook page with a video saying she wanted the public to get to know her, while "run, Sara, run" banners, posters and t-shirts have popped up across the archipelago of 110 million people.

Last month, she said several politicians had offered to be her running mate https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/dutertes-daughter-says-she-has-running-mate-offers-philippines-2022-election-2021-09-02.

Duterte-Carpio told Reuters earlier this year she had decided not to extend the political dynasty to the presidency. "I made a chart where I listed the whys and why-nots before I decided that I am not going to run," she said, adding she had not told her father the reason.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Political analysts said last-minute changes to the list of presidential candidates were possible, with the deadline for withdrawals and substitutions still more than a month a way.

They suspected father and daughter could be using the same tactic https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/run-sara-run-is-dutertes-daughter-playing-her-fathers-game-2021-04-15 Duterte used in 2015 when he joined the presidential race at the eleventh-hour after repeatedly denying interest.

As such, a last-minute presidential entry by Duterte-Carpio could not be ruled out, analysts said.

Still, former political science professor Temario Rivera said a Duterte-Carpio-Go tandem would be "weak" because Go does not have a political base that could help bring in votes.

Candidates have until Oct. 8 to register, but the window for changes closes on Nov. 15.

WHO IS HER COMPETITION?

Though she has never held national office, Duterte-Carpio is by far the most popular presidential prospect, showed successive opinion polls https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/support-dutertes-declines-philippines-election-survey-2021-09-29 this year.

But other potential candidates cut into her lead in a poll of 2,400 people in September by Pulse Asia, with her support dropping to 20% from 28%.

Boxer Manny Pacquiao, who has made his presidential run official after retiring from boxing, rose one notch to fourth, with 12% support from 8% previously.

Another potential contender is the namesake son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was just behind Duterte-Carpio in the poll. Analysts said Marcos may even run alongside Duterte-Carpio, either as president or as her vice president.

Two others have declared their intention to run: Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso, a former actor, and Senator Panfilo Lacson, an ex-police chief - supporters of both expect them to file certificates of candidacy in coming days.

Vice President Leni Robredo, who was elected separately from Duterte in the last vote, is also expected to announce her decision to run for the presidency this week, her supporters have said. Like Pacquiao and Lacson, Robredo saw an increase in support in the latest Pulse Asia survey.

WOULD SHE BE A PROXY FOR HER FATHER?

Analysts said it is crucial Duterte's successor is a loyalist, to insulate him from potential legal action at home or by the International Criminal Court over thousands of killings since 2016 during his war on drugs.

For Carlos Conde, Philippines researcher for New York-based Human Rights Watch, no one can protect Duterte better than Duterte-Carpio.

But Duterte-Carpio showed her independence three years ago when she united political factions to oust a presidential ally as lower house speaker.

She has not been so outspoken on the drugs war that has been a centrepiece of Duterte's administration, but has said prevention and rehabilitation should be part of drug policy, and that "law enforcement should be quick to the draw".

She has also not been as close to China as her father - whose close ties to Beijing rattled the traditional alliance with the United States and a domestic security establishment with close U.S. ties.

In 2020, Duterte-Carpio visited the United States for State Department-sponsored leadership training.

"We should be a bystander in the China versus U.S. issue," she told Reuters. "We should collect friends outside of the two, so that if one turns their back on us, we still have nine. And if both forget about us, we still have eight. And if eight leave us, we should stand alone."

(Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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