Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio’s influence on national politics appears to be continuously ramping up, not only because her statements reverberate throughout Philippine social media but also because whatever she says seems to carry a lot of weight among her political allies across the country.
Some would say that the removal of congressman Pantaleon Alvarez as House Speaker revealed her political clout. A story in the Philippine Star titled Arroyo confirms ‘thank you’ lunch with Sara Duterte reveals what could possibly be some indication of Sara Duterte’s ability to rally political support from congressmen across the country.
In the hours leading to the ouster of the former speaker, it was reported that the plan had the backing of Carpio, who allegedly burned the phone lines to drum up support for Arroyo.
However, Carpio has remained mum about her participation in one of the most dramatic political showdown in recent years and simply congratulated Arroyo on her success in ousting one of the most powerful men in government and one of the president’s closest allies.
A week later, Arroyo was holding a lunch meeting with Carpio, Ilocos Gov. Imee Marcos and more than 150 representatives at a hotel in Quezon City.
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“Let me just say [that] she is a rising star in Philippine politics, even Senator Ping Lacson saw that. But let’s take it one election at a time… and let us talk about 2022 later on,” Arroyo said in an ambush interview.
Duterte-Carpio is the incumbent mayor of Davao City. Due to her key role in the regional party, Hugpong ng Pagbabago, and its support for 13 senatorial candidates in the 2019 midterm polls, many now think she is being groomed to succeed her father, who is set to step down in mid-2022.
According to Arroyo, the idea is not far-fetched, considering presidential offspring “historically” emerge and eventually take positions in politics.
“Let me just put it this way: historically, children of presidents do rise,” Arroyo said.
Arroyo herself, daughter of former Philippine President Diosdado Macapagal, eventually joined politics and became senator, vice-president and president.
Her successor, Benigno Aquino III, is the son of the late former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. and former President Corazon Aquino.
But even before 2022 sets in, Duterte Carpio’s actions and statements at the cusp of the 2019 mid-term elections seems to be building up to the confirmation of her national political clout.
Apart from backing 13 candidates for senator through her regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago, Duterte Carpio has openly endorsed 1st District of Leyte congressman Martin Romualdez as House Speaker for the 18th Congress.
Romualdez, who ran for senator in 2016 and is the nephew of former First Lady Imelda Marcos, welcomed the endorsement.
“Nabubulunan na ko dito [kasi] dalawang beses sinabi ni Ma’am Inday Sara na ako ang magiging next Speaker of the House. Salamat po, Ma’am, sa tiwala at kumpiyansa sa akin. I am humbled by the mere mentioning of my name,” Romualdez said.
“I am very thankful, honored and grateful for the endorsement given to me by Mayor Sara in what is going to be a competitive speakership race,” he added.
If my sources in congress are right, another congressman vying for House Speakership is congressman PA Velasco from the lone district of Marinduque.
Also unconfirmed bet for the House Speakership is former Senator and Foreign Affairs Secretary Allan Peter Cayetano, who is running for congressman in the first district of Taguig-Pateros while his wife runs for the second district of the same city.
No matter how the 2019 elections turn out, I am betting we will see more confirmation of Duterte-Carpio’s growing political influence on a national scale.