MANILA - The uncertainty surrounding the Philippine presidential election in 2022 "remains elevated" as the prospect of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio joining the race is still possible, Fitch Solutions said Tuesday.
Duterte-Carpio filed a certificate of candidacy for reelection as Davao City mayor and not for the presidential race, as the deadline set by the Commission on Elections ended on Oct. 8.
However, there is a "loophole" that could make a substitution in the presidential candidate possible before the end of the year, Fitch Solutions said in a statement.
"We at Fitch Solutions believe there remains a strong possibility that Sara Duterte could still run for president despite not filing for candidacy before the Oct. 8, 2021 deadline," it said.
Her father, current President Rodrigo Duterte did a last-minute substitution in 2016.
"There remains a loophole in which Sara could still run, substituting another candidate before the Nov. 15 deadline," Fitch said.
With the official campaign season set to begin in January, there is still time for "further political surprises and alliance shifting before year-end," Fitch Solutions said.
The issue remains as to who will represent PDP-Laban, plagued by internal struggle. Former police chief Ronaldo "Bato" Dela Rosa is the presidential candidate of the PDP-Laban wing backed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Fitch Solutions added that some presidential candidates would provide "policy continuity" from the current administration of Rodrigo Duterte.
Meanwhile, some candidates have said they would end Duterte's "war on drugs" which has been the target of human rights reviews, as well as taking a tougher stance towards disputes in the South China Sea."
President Duterte's withdrawal from the vice presidential race could also potentially result in a "more distant approach to China relations" by the next president, Fitch Solutions said.
The next elected president could potentially "seek international support" over disputes on the South China Sea, it added.
But Fitch Solutions said the shift to a liberal democratic presidency "remains of low probability."
"We at Fitch Solutions believe a shift to a liberal democratic presidency remains of low probability and highlight the potential for key Duterte policies, such as his focus on infrastructure development and the drug war, do be continued to varying degrees," it added.
Other notable presidential candidates for the 2022 elections include Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, son and namesake of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, Senator and boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, Vice President Leni Robredo, and Senator Panfilo Lacson.