Philippines: Sara Duterte joins new party as election deadline nears

The announcement has fuelled speculation that she will make a late entry into the presidential race in a bid to succeed her father


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Published: Thu 11 Nov 2021, 6:35 PM

Philippines “First Daughter” Sara Duterte joined a new political party on Thursday, fuelling speculation she will make a late entry into the presidential race in a bid to succeed her father.

Supporters of the Davao city mayor have been clamouring for her to run for the country’s highest office, but she has insisted that she was not interested in replacing President Rodrigo Duterte.

But her sudden withdrawal on Tuesday from the 2022 mayoral contest suggested she had changed her mind.

On Thursday she reportedly quit her regional party. Hours later, government television showed her joining Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, the national political party of her close ally and former president Gloria Arroyo.

“I thank my supporters. I hope whatever happens in the next few days I will be able to give them what they want,” she told reporters Thursday on the sidelines of a wedding south of Manila.

Philippine politics is dominated by powerful families and has a long history of scions succeeding their parents into the presidential palace.

Sara would join a crowded race that includes the son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, celebrity mayor Francisco Domagoso, boxing great Manny Pacquiao and incumbent Vice-President Leni Robredo.

There is speculation that Sara has been trying to persuade Marcos Jr, popularly known as Bongbong, to slide back into the vice presidential race and create a formidable alliance between the two clans.

In the Philippines, the president and vice-president are elected separately.

Marcos Jr, who was at the same wedding on Thursday and was seen walking arm in arm with Sara, told reporters: “I will continue with my plan. I entered this race to run for president.”

Sara, who has consistently led in surveys of voter preferences for the next president, has until November 15 to substitute her party’s current presidential candidate - a replay of her father’s last-minute entry into the race in 2015.

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