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3 Senator Dutertes?  Scenario not impossible

By Beting Laygo Dolor, Editor

MANILA  —   The Philippine Senate currently has a mother-and-son tandem, a pair of siblings, and a pair of half brothers. By the next election, the upper chamber of the bicameral Congress may yet see a father-and-two sons as concurrent senators.

This possibility came to light this week after Vice President Sara Duterte said her father, former president Rodrigo Duterte, and her two brothers, Davao City Mayor Sebastian ‘Baste’ Duterte and Davao City 1st district congressman Paolo Duterte would run for the Senate in the 2025 elections.

Speaking to local media in Cagayan de Oro on Tuesday, June 25 (Manila time), Sara Duterte said the three were “raring” to run for Senate seats next year.

“That’s confirmed,” she said.

The VP said it was her mother who informed her of the family decision.

She appeared to contradict herself, however, when she also said her mother told her the plan was for her father and brother Baste to run for Senate seats in 2028, and not next year. By 2028, Sara will reclaim the post of Davao City mayor, she said.

Recent surveys have shown the former president would be practically a sure bet to win, but the Duterte brothers had not been included in surveys. Thus their winnability or lack thereof, is uncertain.

The 2026 elections could be problematic for the Duterte clan as President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and Speaker Martin Romualdez have been consolidating their power by absorbing into their fold as many lawmakers and local officials as possible.

The “Unity team” of Marcos and Duterte is no more, say the VP’s supporters, leaving her without a strong party to launch a possible presidential run in 2028. The PDP-Laban headed by former president Duterte has been losing members left and right, and is seen to be hard put to complete a senatorial slate in next year’s polls.

Recently renamed to just Laban, the once dominant party now only has a handful of members in the House and only two in the Senate, Bong Go and Bato dela Rosa. Even erstwhile Laban president Jose Alvarez resigned from the party last week, but maintained that he still supported the Dutertes.

The odd plan for three Dutertes to run for the Senate could be to keep the family at top-of-mind for the next presidential elections, where the incumbent vice president has been performing well in surveys. Sara Duterte resigned as Education secretary last week, seen as a further indication that the Duterte family has practically cut its political ties with the Marcos clan.

Before her exit, the VP had been having differences with First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos. This, after former president Duterte mocked the president for being high on drugs during a prayer rally, which saw the VP laughing at her father’s comments.

Families in the current senate are Senator Cynthia Villar and her son Mark, as well as siblings Alan Peter and Pia Cayetano. There are also half-brothers Jinggoy Estrada and JV Ejercito.

Despite various proposals calling for legalized bans on family political dynasties, lawmakers have ignored such calls as both the House and the Senate as well as countless local government posts are populated by close relatives, who maintain a stranglehold on power through means both fair and foul. 

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