Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte and The Rise to National Prominence of Local Government Executives

To be sure, former Davao City Mayor and now President Rodrigo Roa Duterte wasn’t the first local government executive to have risen to national prominence through a presidential bid.

But I guess his win in 2016 may be written down by some as a turning point in our history of elections when people began looking at local executives (governors and mayors) as serious contenders for the country’s presidency.

He broke the mold of previous winning presidential candidates who usually had national prominence first before seeking the Presidency in the Post EDSA 86 era.

SUPPORT INDEPENDENT SOCIAL COMMENTARY!
Subscribe to our Substack community GRP Insider where you can opt to receive by email our more comprehensive and in-depth free weekly newsletter GRP Mail. Consider also supporting our efforts to remain an independent channel for social commentary and insight by sponsoring us through a small donation or a monthly paid subscription.
Subscribe to our Substack newsletter, GRP Insider!
Learn more

Now, with the incipient candidacy of his daughter Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte, we may yet see another historic and game changing presidential election win in 2022.

Not only will this be the first time that another local government executive will start a succession of local government executives elected as president, it might also be the first time that the daughter of a sitting president will take over the reins of power.

Even better, we may even see Duterte the daughter rise as President with her father as Vice President.

Unprecedented, indeed!

Some may describe this as a consolidation of a national political dynasty and say that such dynasties are a bad thing.

But I would point out that the country’s largest and longest running enterprises in business as well as in politics happen to be run mostly by dynasties.

Dynasties, as Senator Richard Gordon once told me personally, are not a bad thing per se.

He said that there are dynasties that advance the society that engenders them  and are considered good in many respects; these ones continue for as long as they can. Then, there are also bad dynasties which commit acts that lead to the disintegration of society, its very foundations, and these ones are eventually destroyed.

Moreover, I guess it is time to admit that political dynasties are actually the norm in Philippine politics. Just Google: “Philippine political families” and you will see that there is practically no area in the country not held by one or another political dynasty. These dynasties appear either as a succession of the same last names in the same positions or the same last names in different positions within the same time period and locality.

It’s really a no brainer as to why no anti-dynasty bill will ever pass into law.

Thing is, if political dynasties come to being and continue to exist, there ought to be other reasons for it to happen other than just the flippant condemnation that Filipinos are just corrupt or backward.

I’ve heard it said that if the Singsons or Marcoses were completely taken out of power, our Ilokos provinces would be put in disarray and its people locked in violent political feuds for domination. Moreover, the Ilokos region continues to post healthy economic growth and is the 8th largest contributor to the country’s GDP as of 2018.

Political dynasties, it would seem, stabilize the country’s politics and economy better than the fleshless creatures which we call principles and laws.

Perhaps these term limits as well as the notion of banning political dynasties were artificially and irrationally conceived as a palliative reaction to the twenty year Marcos rule that preceded it.

Instead of working with and enhancing the beneficial aspects of our cultural norms for political succession and expansion, an automatic limit was imposed on all without regard for whether the incumbent political leader and his clan could continue to deliver good governance; or if there were aspirants whose capabilities equal or even surpass that of the incumbent.

Instead of freeing the people to decide on the length of a leader’s reign, it locked us up in perpetual  cycles of very costly electoral contests.

Given the fact that we have a large number of families doing round robins in elective positions or occupying the whole roster of elective positions at the same time and given that this appears to be the norm of current political practices, it behooves our legislators to remove the backward looking constitutional provision on automatic term limits as well as the ban on political dynasties.

Perhaps, in its place, legislature can devise a performance based system for determining whether a political leader should continue or be booted out.

On the political front closer to my home, Quezon City’s political elite is in a struggle to determine whether to continue the reign of the Belmonte coalition or break it up in favor of a new political coalition.

My acquaintances, who are somewhat involved in Quezon City politics, have an impression that Mayor Joy Belmonte’s hold on power may be weak and her performance sorely lacking.

This is quite contrary to a recent independent survey conducted by RP-Mission and Development Foundation Inc. (RPMD) which says that QC Mayor Joy is the top performing local chief executive in the National Capital Region (NCR), The survey results were based on face-to-face interviews with 3,500 respondents, who were asked to rate their respective mayors regarding their overall job performance for 2020.

Take the survey for what you will, but there are names that keep cropping up as challengers to current QC Mayor.

These are:

Anakalusugan Party-list Representative Michael “Mike” Tan Defensor. He was my former big boss when he was the HUDCC Chairman and was largely credited for clearing informal settlers from the PNR embankments. After his stint as former President Gloria Arroyo’s number 1 guy and DENR Secretary, he ran for Quezon City Mayor in 2010 and ended up topping the other also-rans with 130,000 votes against Herbert Bautista who garnered over 500,000 votes.

For some time, he stepped away from politics and focused on steering one or several mining firms. Then after his hiatus from politics and government, he ran as the second nominee of Anakalusugan party-list in 2019 and when the party-list won a seat, he emerged as its representative.

Mike has somewhat of a colorful political career with a couple of misadventures that I will tell you about in a future post.

Quezon City Councilor Winston “Winnie” Castelo. He is possibly the best known Quezon City councilor with a career spanning 26 years.

He was QC Councilor from 1995–2004 and then again from 2019 to this present day.

I assume he took a break from 2004 to 2009 before running and winning as Congressman 2nd District of Quezon City in 2010. He made consecutive runs for the same position and held it up to 2019. Thereafter, running for QC Councilor and winning.

He doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry that summarizes his rather lengthy career and accomplishments, but he does have a building with his name on it that serves as a landmark in his district. From various accounts, Winnie is big on giving away ayuda long before the COVID19 pandemic hit us and is well loved by the people in his district.

The Castelos are one of the families that dominate Quezon City politics.

His wife, Precious Hipolito-Castelo is the current Congresswoman of Quezon City’s 2nd district and was 2nd District councilor from 2010–2019.

His sister, Nanette Castelo-Daza, was congresswoman of Quezon City’s 4th district from 2001 to 2010. His niece, Jessica Castelo-Daza, was 4th district councilor from 2010 to 2016. Other relatives occupying legislative positions in the city are Karl Edgar Castelo in the 5th district (a position he has occupied since 2013) and Bobby Castelo in the 6th district (a position he has been in since 2013).

Former congressman Bingbong Crisologo. Of the would-be contenders for Quezon City Mayor, perhaps Bingbong is the only one whose family isn’t so deeply rooted  the city’s history or dominates the landscape.  The only other Crisologos holding an elective position is his son Onyx, who was elected congressman of the 1st District — a position that Bingbong formerly held until his run for QC Mayor in 2019 which he lost by a hundred thousand votes.

When I was in my early teens in the early 1980s, I used to see Bingbong a lot in the Galas area. I didn’t know him as a politician but as a leader of a Catholic movement geared towards catechism for the youth.

His religiosity is one of the things he is best known for after being pardoned by former President Ferdinand Marcos for arson which he committed in 1970 in Ilocos Sur.

The other crime appended to his name is malversation thru falsification of public documents for anomalous pork barrel projects in 2009. He was indicted by the Ombudsman but dismisses the charge as being politically motivated.

Senator Tito Sotto. His son Gian is currently Vice Mayor of Quezon City and if Senator Sotto does run for Mayor, would he run with his son?

Perhaps it would be a catchy a headline as the father-daughter teaming of Inday Sarah Duterte for President and outgoing president Duterte as Vice President.

To the national team up of Duterte-Duterte, maybe we will see Quezon City coming up with a Sotto-Sotto.

But, anyway, Sotto’s political roots are deep and the landscape his last name occupies is quite broad.

Sotto’s paternal grandfather and namesake was former senator Vicente Sotto (1877–1950). Vicente’s brother, Filemon (1872–1966) also served as a senator and was one of those who drafted the 1935 Constitution.

He was vice mayor of Quezon City from 1988 to 1992. Then served two terms as senator from 1992 to 2004. After a brief absence from politics, he won as senator again in 2010 and ran for re-election in 2016.

Apart from Senator Tito and Vice Mayor Gian, the other Sottos in public office are:

`Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto, Lala Sotto who has been serving as councilor of the 6th District of Quezon City since 2013 and Wahoo Sotto who has been serving as councilor of the 2nd district of Parañaque City also since 2013.

To be fair to these gentlemen, I haven’t come across any news of them saying that they were even considering a run for the Quezon City Mayoralty. The only way to know for sure is if they file their certificate of candidacy for QC Mayor in October.

But, supposing they are running against Mayor Joy’s possible re-election bid, so everything is still up in the air.

print