Opinion

Sara Duterte Is a Force to Be Reckoned With

Sara Duterte-Carpio is playing her cards well.
IMAGE Senator Bong Go
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It’s hard to erase the image of Sara Duterte-Carpio repeatedly punching a court sheriff in the face in front of national television—it was a brute display of power and street justice that resonated among her supporters and detractors. 

That happened 10 years ago but it is still an image stuck in the mind like a burn-in from a bad LCD screen. 

That incident would have easily landed any other mayor in jail or thrown out of office, but not Sara. It’s not that she wanted fodder for politics, it’s just who she is—a force to reckon with. 

She even nicknamed her children Sharky, Stingray, and Stonefish—three of the deadliest sea creatures known to man. 

Regardless of your political leanings, you can’t help but wonder how she affects national politics: Politicians are thirsting for her endorsement, and opponents are wary of her posters urging her “Run, Sara, Run.” 

Sara was instrumental in the supposed ouster of two House Speakers. 

In 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte revealed it was Sara who maneuvered the ouster of former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, and installed Alan Peter Cayetano as successor. 

Then, with a single photo with Congressman Lord Allan Velasco, Sara helped install Velasco as the new speaker. The photo allegedly swayed congressmen to side with Velasco over Cayetano. 

Today, Sara outmaneuvered her father and Bong Go by parrying their bid that was supposedly hinged on her decision to run. 

“I strongly suggest to the President and Senator Go to own up publicly to their decision to run as tandem,” she posted on Facebook. 

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Earlier, Go and the President said they will step aside for Sara if she decides to run for President.

“I respectfully advise them to stop talking about me and making me the reason for their running or not running,” said Sara.

Photo by Sara Duterte-Carpio.

The takedown of Go and her father was brutal: “Don’t blame me for the sitcom that your party has been reduced to… I refuse to be a punching bag for a party in complete disarray.”

She was referring to the recent infighting in the PDP-Laban party, which resulted in the ouster of several prominent figures within its ranks: Koko Pimentel and Manny Pacquiao. Pimentel was removed as the party’s executive vice chairman, while Pacquiao was removed as its president

Sara accomplishes three things with her post. First, she distances herself from the PDP-Laban, which could be seen as a toxic political party for anyone with aspirations for higher office, or winning the 2022 elections. Second, she emphasizes her independence from her father, the President. 

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Third, by saying “no one among you is a leader worthy of the respect of the majority,” she indirectly assaults the credibility of party officers not only as leaders of the bloc but also leaders of the nation. 

And then, like a well-thought-out script, Sara presents herself as the better alternative: “I am not a ‘Last Two Minutes’ person. I think, I organize, and I implement accordingly.” 

And with that last line, she just elevated humble bragging into anger bragging. 

But what kind of daughter would put everyone in the line of fire, including her own father? Well, as she said, her pronouncements are coming from her point of view as a politician, and nothing else.

Sara Duterte-Carpio is playing her cards well. Everyone who has declared their intentions to pursue the top positions in government has received political backlash in one form or another. In the chaos of politics, Sara, who is seen as a contender for the presidential elections, has escaped it largely unscathed. 

Of course, it has not escaped us that this whole charade might have been played to prop up Sara's 2022 candidacy. 

It’s hard to deny that Sara is the strongest contender for the 2022 presidential elections. It’s also naive to dismiss her as someone who will not take that chance to run for president. 

In 2018, President Duterte warned about his daughter’s capabilities: “Be careful with that woman. She can oust even the Speaker. She operated in Davao.” Sara could be a case study for aspiring politicians. Sometimes, in order to succeed, you have to punch someone in the face, even if that someone is the President or your own father.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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