Duterte runs test on daughter’s bid as running mate

Duterte said he has started conducting public consultation around Davao's 184 barangays to test the public acceptance for his daughter.

"I will not make any decision unless I complete the consultation in all barangays," he told reporters Wednesday after one of the consultations.

The father-daughter tandem loomed starting December when the mayor announced he might cast 28-year-old lawyer daughter as his running mate. The announcement sparked a mix of reactions with critics labeling it as "dynastic."

But supporters, like vice mayoralty hopeful Leonardo Avila III, now a member of the city council, welcomed the move. He said he will give way to the mayor's daughter.

Duterte, with Sara and two city councilors by his side, asked residents during a public forum in Barangay 37-D and Mini-Forest Wednesday if they will accept his daughter.

“Is it okay with you if the leadership I inherited from my father will be passed on to Sara?” he asked the people in the vernacular.

Consultations are being conducted by gathering residents in a community hall. A barangay official will introduce Duterte, who will explain his intention and the reason why he plans to field his daughter as vice mayoralty candidate. Then Sara will speak and ask the people about their reaction.

Duterte started his speech with a caveat that he is not campaigning, but consulting.

Earlier, Duterte said he will not allow any of his children to get involved the city's messy politics.

Duterte said he has to change his mind in order to prevent corrupt officials from taking over city hall.

He said Wednesday he has to field a winnable candidate for vice mayor to prevent the reentry of former mayor and erstwhile ally Benjamin de Guzman. He made references to the former mayor without naming him in his speech.

Duterte called De Guzman, who was reported to have eyed the vice mayoralty race, as unfit for office. He accused De Guzman to have caused the city to incur P2 million monthly amortization of a loan incurred during the latter's incumbency.

Duterte referred to the P150-million mothballed Artica sports center in Ma-a built under De Guzman's administration through a loan from Land Bank of the Philippines. He said De Guzman also dragged his family into his election propaganda.

Duterte said that the winner in the vice mayoralty race is crucial as to who will become mayor in 2010, when he retires after his three terms.

“Watch out. Whoever wins as vice mayor will become the next mayor,” he said.

Duterte said he could already start training Sara as vice mayor for the city's top post.

"I can guide Sara on what to do and what not to do," he said. Duterte said Sara could win, citing results of surveys conducted by media groups.

Sara told residents at the consultation that she has no problem with her possible candidacy. " I am ready to work. I’m capable of doing it,” she said.

Earlier, Sara sought for more time to decide on entering politics.

She told residents she just wanted to know if the people also like her father's intention to field her as running mate.

"I don't want to waste your time and mine too. If you don't like the idea, just tell me. As a lawyer, I can also help you in some other ways," she said.

Residents in the two barangays responded with cheers and claps for "Inday Sara."

The move, however, was slammed by critics as dynasty building. Duterte's father, Vicente, was governor of the province of Davao before it was subdivided. Duterte was prosecutor before becoming mayor in 1988. He has also served as congressman during the term of De Guzman as mayor.

De Guzman, in a radio interview on Jan. 31, said he is not against the tandem. "I will not say it is good or bad. That is their goal," he said.

De Guzman brushed off corruption charges and denied dragging the Dutertes to dirty politics.

He said it will be the will of the people that matters. He said the Hugpong Party, Duterte's political party, must have seen him as a "strong contender."

"That is why they have to look for a stronger candidate (against me)," he said.