LETTERS FROM DAVAO
By Jun Ledesma
A narrative to a political destiny
FOR those not familiar with how politicians indulge in the vagaries of the electoral contest, the unfolding of events, starting with the withdrawal of Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte for her re-election bid, is an enigma. This, after she made an announcement each time she is asked or prodded to run for President, that a decision had been reached as early as September that she will not run for the highest elective post if her father will run for Vice President.
We learned that the September encounter with her father had doused cold water in her political quest. She was sought after by political leaders who pledged their support, others offering to be her running mate and political parties subordinating their interest and submit to a coalition with Hugpong ng Pagbabago if only to make her run. No one is privy to the father-and-daughter meeting but the perception remains that it was too serious for her to have lost steam and interest.
Came October 8 she filed her COC for Mayor. It was a big letdown for many who expected her to run for President. Prior to the filing of her COC, however, she was to fly to Singapore for a medical consultation. That was canceled. City Hall was mum about it but hospital walls have ears. Her little children were tested positive for Covid-19, her hubby and she eventually. It was the most excruciating moment for the City Mayor known for her courage and true grit. Above all else moreover, she is a mother. But God was kind to her and her family, what they had were mild cases and in no time at all, they all recovered in time for the October 8 deadline of filing of COCs. In time, too she made it to Singapore and came home with the doctor’s verdict -- she is well and hale.
Meantime, her followers from across the country have not given up on her. On November 5, convenors brushed aside her counsel not to pursue their grand caravan repeating anew that a decision had been reached in that September eve.
And then came the breaking news Tuesday. In the morning her younger brother, Vice Mayor Sebastian “Baste” Z. Duterte withdrew his COC for Vice Mayor. The media went gaga. The social media heated up with the developing story which was interrupted only by Inday Sara’s announcement that the City Information Officer had been terminated for her involvement in a drug raid of a coastal resort Davao de Oro where 19 party-goers were rounded up while indulging in a brew of shabu, marijuana, ecstasy, and other party drugs.
Towards the afternoon, Mayor Inday Sara with her signature green t-shirt arrived at the Comelec office to withdraw her COC for City Mayor. Having done so, she told the crowd that “that is it for now”. It was an emotion-packed event. Inday wiping her tears now and then. The day ended later with Baste showing up in the Comelec office again this time to file his COC for City Mayor and the announcement that Melchor Quitain Jr., the City Council Majority Floor Leader has been nominated to substitute for Baste as Vice Mayor.
There are only three paths to follow after Mayor Inday made a crucial decision of withdrawing her certificate of candidacy for mayor: to run for President, to run for Vice President, or gather her growing up kids and hubby Mans and hie off to a quiet and isolated resort away from the prying eyes of media hunting for a scoop.
As if the withdrawal of her COC for mayor was not enough, on November 11 she quietly flew to Manila and proceeded to Silang, Cavite to be one of the sponsors in the wedding of the daughter of Lakas-CMD Chairman Bong Revilla. Bongbong Marcos and Sen. Bato dela Rosa, both presidential aspirants and Rep. Martin Romualdez, President of Lakas-CMD were there too. I do not know which came first but in the same event and venue, Mayor Inday Sara did another unexpected act. She resigned as a member of Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HnP), a regional party she formed and chair, and then took her oath as a member of Lakas-CMD.
Her resignation from HnP elicited mixed emotions and may have caused heart attacks to some. Facebook, which had become a virtual arena of whose got the longest caravan contest, suddenly become muted. In the Davao region, it sparked a new ray of hope Inday Sara will possibly run for president. In Davao de Oro and Davao del Norte, HnP and Lakas-CMD started to organize coalitions to support her. It stirred speculations she will stay in Manila until November 15 the day appointed for substitution. Little is known for it must have been ignored that Lakas-CMD, the party that had produced two presidents for the country -- Fidel Valdez Ramos and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo -- fielded an innocuous member, Ana Capella Velasco, to run for President, and Lyle Uy for Vice President.
The eagle from Mindanao who had been described by many who knew her as an iron lady flew quietly back to Davao City without fanfare to personally look after families displaced by a flash flood the night before. She issued a statement on her Facebook saying:
“Sa lahat ng aking mga taga-suporta, pati na po sa mga miyembro ng media -- nakikiusap po ako sa inyo na sana ay huwag na kayong mag-camp-out sa labas ng Comelec. Nakikiusap din ako sa mga nasa probinsiya na huwag kayo bumiyahe papunta Manila nandito lang po ako sa Davao City dahil sa sunod-sunod na pag-ulan at pagbaha."
After the last evacuee was resettled, the Alpha in the family, as President Rodrigo Duterte would ascribe to his daughter, starts to track the route where destiny leads her. Saturday, when everybody was out enjoying the relaxed restrictions against Covid-19, Inday, through her representative and lawyer, filed her COC for Vice President.
About the Columnist
Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan.