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Sara Duterte was 33 years old when she became the first female and youngest person to be elected mayor of Davao City in its political history. She assumed the post her father, Rodrigo, held for more than 20 years. She vowed to be useful and to serve the Philippine people at all times.
In 2013, she was practically unchallenged, with her tightest contender recording only over 2,000 votes. During the 2016 elections, her rival got over 4,000 votes.
Women who achieve the highest office in the Philippines are likely to belong to political families. Even before her father became President of the Philippines, she made news headlines. She was called “the slugger” city mayor who hit a court sheriff in public on July 1, 2011.
She is headstrong, feisty, and controversial like her father. She was chosen as her father’s successor and the heir to the Duterte dynasty. To her father’s die-hard supporters, she is the guarantee of continuity, even if she is running for vice president. To rivals, she is the other half of a formidable tandem and the early leader of the 2022 race.
She is a lawyer and a reserve officer colonel in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. After winning the mayoral post for Davao City in the 2016 elections she put together the Courage and Compassion coalition composed of Duterte allies and supporters.
She established Alliance for Change, a new regional party to support her father’s administration.
She could be a lot of things in a different world. She dreamed of being a physician and has joked about wanting to be a singer.
When she was 28, she brushed off criticism over the burgeoning Duterte political dynasty. She said voters could choose who they want to the top posts in the city. While her father was labeled the every man mayor, her transportation policies were anti-poor.
The younger Duterte shares allies and enemies with her father. However, she has a mind of her own and often acts independently. So, it did not come as a surprise when she did not budge when her father insisted that she run for president.
In 2021, Duterte’s insiders said a father-daughter tandem would be too much of an imposition on the electorate. However, when the older Duterte announced his retirement, the pressure from political allies and supporters to run intensified.
Sara Duterte made yet another news headline when she went to Cebu and met BongBong Marcos Jr. She withdrew her mayoral candidacy a week before the substitution deadline. Marcos Jr. later confirmed that Sara Duterte could be his vice presidential bet.
The young Duterte said her decision to run as vice president is an opportunity to meet her supporters halfway. To experts, her decision indicated her establishing space with her father.
Today, the young Duterte has not only retained her position as the top vice presidential preference for Filipinos but broadened her lead over her opponents. One of Duterte’s campaign managers accepted the results of the latest survey and said:
This is the manifestation of the voter’s support for Mayor Duterte, their validation of her skills, competence, and expertise in leading the country as the next vice president.
Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
Rappler: Sara, the other Duterte; by Bea Cupin
Philippines News Agency: Sara hopes youth won’t grow up ‘ungrateful’ like Walden Bello; by Jelly Musico
Philippine News Agency: Sara to campaign harder after topping poll survey anew: Romualdez
Top and Featured Image by National Historical Commission of the Philippines Courtesy of Wikimedia – Public Domain License
Inset Image by Avito C. Dalan/Philippine News Agency Courtesy of Wikimedia – Public Domain License