DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 28 April) – Rodrigo Roa Duterte did not shun debates and election forums when he campaigned for the Presidency in 2016. His three children running for various posts, have been shying away from these in their 2022 election campaigns.
The Duterte brothers and most of their partymates did not participate in the Archdiocesan Political Education Committee’s “Kinsa Sila … Unsay Ilang Plataporma?” (Who are they … What is their platform), the only face-to-face election forum here during this campaign period, depriving voters of the chance to get to know them through their responses to questions asked by a three-member panel from the Archdiocese of Davao and from those relayed through social media.
Vice Mayor Sebastian Duterte, who is running for Mayor, did not attend the forum for mayoralty candidates on Monday, April 25 while his elder brother, reelectionist 1st district Representative Paolo Duterte was not in the forum for congressional candidates on Tuesday night, April 26.
Held at the Martin Hall of the Ateneo de Davao University, the forum on Monday was for mayoralty candidates, on Tuesday for nine congressional candidates in the third district and the succeeding days for the candidates for councilors in the three districts.
In the Monday forum, Ruy Elias Lopez, three-term representative of the 3rd congressional district from 1998 to 2007, was the lone mayoralty candidate who appeared before the three-member panel. Lopez, a lawyer and graduate of the University of the Philippines’ College of Law is the son of the late Elias Lopez, the first Bagobo to be elected mayor. Four candidates are running for mayor: Duterte of Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) and independent candidates Lopez, Joseph Hannibal Elizalde and Teodoro Mantilla.
At the congressional forum, only two of four candidates were present: businessman Jamal Kanan and Maria Victoria “Mags” Maglana, a much-sought after facilitator and consultant on peace, development and governance, both running as independent candidates. Reelectionist Duterte and Jovanie Mantawel, an independent candidate, did not participate.
Organizers told MindaNews a staff member of the office of Vice Mayor Duterte sent a text message at 11:35 a.m. on Monday that “unfortunately, Vice Mayor is unable to attend … due to conflict of schedule. Thank you for your understanding and Congratulations on your event.”
In the case of Rep. Duterte, a member of his staff called organizers on April 19 that he cannot attend because he would be in Manila on April 26 to join the campaign of his sister, Sara, outgoing Davao City mayor and vice presidential candidate.
The Duterte siblings did not also participate in Candid Dates, a series of online conversations between Mindanawon voters and candidates running for President, Vice President and local seats in the May 9 elections, initiated by the Davao Association of Catholic Schools (DACS) and co-presented by the Initiatives for International Dialogue, MindaNews and the Mindanao Consortium of Ateneo comprising the Ateneo de Davao, Zamboanga and Cagayan de Oro. Only Lopez and Maglana participated in Candid Dates.
Like her brothers, Sara has been an absentee in electoral forums. She was absent in the CNN vice presidential debate and did not attend the two vice presidential debates organized by the Commission on Elections.
The 2022 election is the first election where the Duterte siblings are facing a serious challenge to the positions they are seeking since Sara and Paolo entered the political arena in 2007 and Sebastian in 2019. Sara is facing eight challengers in the vice presidential race where she is the lone woman among nine candidates. The last time she was challenged at the polls was in 2010 when she first ran for mayor against then outgoing House Speaker Prospero Nograles, with her father Rodrigo, then ending his sixth term as mayor, as her running mate.
Sebastian ran for Vice Mayor, unopposed, in 2019, and supposedly also in 2022 as he was the lone candidate to file a certificate of candidacy for Vice Mayor. But he withdrew to substitute as mayoralty candidate after Sara withdrew to substitute for Lyle Uy as vice presidential candidate of Lakas-CMD party of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Sara is the running mate of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas.
Paolo was elected as barangay captain of Catalunan Grande in 2007 and held the post until 2013 but in 2008, he was elected president of the Association of Barangay Captains, earning him a seat in the City Council. He was elected Vice Mayor from 2013 to 2016, an unopposed running mate of his father, Rodrigo, and from 2016 until he resigned Christmas Day of 2017 citing three reasons — his failed marriage with his first wife, his “very public squabble” with his daughter from the first marriage and his having been implicated in the smuggling of 6.4 billion worth of shabu for which he and Sara’s husband Manases Carpio faced a congressional inquiry where they both denied involvement.
Sara was elected Vice Mayor in 2007, Mayor in 2010, did not participate in the 2013 elections but returned in 2016 as a substitute candidate for mayor when her father ran for President as a substitute candidate for the PDP-Laban’s Martin Dino.
HNP and HTL absent
In Tuesday’s forum, the three candidates vying for the 2nd congressional district and the two candidates for the 3rd congressional district were absent as well. Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang (Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod or HTL) confirmed he was attending but the forum ended with the chair intended for Dayanghirang, between Kanan and Maglana, still vacant.
The Archdiocesan voter education series was originally scheduled to run from April 25 to 29 but its last episode was on April 28 as the 10 candidates for councilor of the third district – five from the Sara Duterte party, HNP and five from the Duterte patriarch-founded HTL, had sent word they are not attending, allegedly due to schedule conflicts.
The series, the only face-to-face forum for candidates during this campaign period, aims to give voters the “opportunity to listen, to discern, and decide on who are the most qualified and deserving candidates for the various local elective positions for House of Representatives, City Mayor, Vice Mayor, and Councilors” and also to “provide a venue for invited candidates to introduce themselves to the electorate, as well as share their platform of governance and advocacies that they intend to pursue once elected into office.”
Only five of 15 candidates for councilor in the first district attended the forum on Wednesday night: Bernard Al-ag (HNP), Lyndon Banzon (independent), Pilar Braga (HTL), Allan Halog and Randy Ponteras of the Partido Pilipino sa Pagbabago.
Five other HNP candidates were absent: Nilo Abellera Jr., Luna Marie Acosta, Reolsyl Caingles, Edgar Ibuyan, Jr., and Temujin “Tek” Ocampo while three other HTL candidates were absent: Richard Duterte, Bonz Andre Militar, and Roberto Sarenas. Two other independent candidates – Jessica Bonguyan and Ismael Veloso, Jr., were absent.
Only five of 15 candidates for councilor in the second district attended the forum on Thursday night: independent candidates Reyvan Abad, Roseller Bantugan, Franco Batenga, Paola Isabelle Salvador and Joel Bustamante of Reform PH-People’s Party.
All five HTL candidates were absent: Marissa Abella, Al Ryan Alejandre, Dante Apostol, Richlyn Justol-Baguilod and Diosdado Angelo Mahipus, Jr. All four HNP candidates were also absent: Louie John Bonguyan, Augusto Javier Campos III, Danilo Dayanghirang II and Jonard Dayap. Independent candidate Crispin Galang was also absent.
Al-ag was the lone HNP candidate for councilor among 15 of the party’s candidates in the three districts, to attend the forum while Braga was the lone HTL candidate among 14 of the party’s candidates in the three districts, to attend the forum.
The April 29 forum for candidates for councilor of the third district was cancelled because not one among the allies of Duterte — all five HNP candidates and all five HTL candidates cited schedule conflicts. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)