Duterte-Domagoso alliance? Palace keeps mum

Jamaine Punzalan and Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 07 2021 04:56 PM | Updated as of Dec 07 2021 05:37 PM

This composite image shows President Rodrigo Duterte and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso. Robinson Niñal, Presidential Photo/George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
This composite image shows President Rodrigo Duterte and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso. Robinson Niñal, Presidential Photo/George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) — President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman on Tuesday refused to comment on a possible 2022 election alliance between the chief executive and presidential contender Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso.

Domagoso recently said he would welcome an endorsement from Duterte, after the latter's preferred successor Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go said he is withdrawing from the presidential race. The mayor, who once joined unity talks among the opposition, added on Monday that he was open to adopting the President in his party's senatorial lineup. 

In August, Domagoso, a former actor, reacted to Duterte's tirades against an unnamed Metro Manila mayor for having a "disorganized mind" and having lewd photos circulating online.

The latest remarks of Domagoso is proof that many remain confident that Duterte could continue serving the country in the Senate, said acting presidential spokesman Cabinet Secretary Carlo Nograles. 

"Pero ayaw ko rin pong pangunahan kung ano ang mangyayari sa susunod na araw at sa susunod na buwan. At ayoko ring pangunahan ano magiging desisyon ng iba’t ibang mga kandidato na tumatakbo at iba’t ibang mga partido na nais pang mag-endorse kay Pangulong Duterte," he said in a press briefing. 

(But I do want to preempt what could happen in the next days and months. And I do not want to preempt the decision of other candidates and parties who may want to endorse President Duterte, too.)

Nograles and Duterte belong to the same faction of PDP-Laban, which no longer has a presidential bet in next year's elections after Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa withdrew his candidacy. Duterte filed his candidacy for senator under Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan, as Go did in his presidential candidacy after withdrawing his COC for vice president under PDP-Laban.

The President's daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio is running for vice president under Lakas-CMD, in tandem with former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

Duterte said he is not supporting Marcos and recently called him a "weak leader" who relies on his father and namesake, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. 

Go said he is quitting from next year's polls because he did not want Duterte to be "trapped in the middle." The lawmaker has yet to formally withdraw his candidacy. 

After Duterte verbally attacked an unnamed Metro Manila mayor last August over the latter's pictures while clad only in undergarments, Domagoso said, "Imbis na busy sila sa COVID-19, natingnan nila 'yung picture ko... kaysa 'yung picture ng mga namamatay, picture ng nagkakasakit."

(Instead of being preoccupied with COVID-19, they were busy looking at my picture... They were looking at that instead of looking at the pictures of those who died from COVID-19, and those who are still sick because of the virus.)

"I'm honored but I'm not happy," he added.

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Video courtesy of PTV 

'OLIVE BRANCH'

For a political analyst, Domagoso's recent remark could be likened to extending an "olive branch" to the Duterte camp.

"Kasi sa tingin ko, 'yung lohika ng (I think the logic of) Isko campaign is the very crude and basic 'politics is addition'. The more that you can get on your side means there will be more votes," Dr. Aries Arugay, a political science professor in UP Diliman, told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

Domagoso's 2022 campaign strategist is Lito Banayo, who also helped Duterte's presidential bid in 2016.

Should the Manila mayor get Duterte's endorsement, Arugay said it would still not equate to success, citing the country's political history.

"Sa tingin ko, iba ang presidential endorsement in a presidential race, rather than 'yung mga mas inferior positions," he said.

(I think a presidential endorsement in a presidential race is different, rather than those in inferior positions.)

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Duterte's endorsement was seen as key in the victory of some senatorial candidates in the 2019 elections.

In the 1998 elections, then-President Fidel Ramos endorsed Jose de Venecia Jr. as successor but was defeated by Joseph Estrada.

In the 2010 elections, then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo endorsed Gilbert Teodoro but Benigno Aquino III clinched the presidency.

In the subsequent presidential elections, Aquino endorsed Mar Roxas but Duterte took the country's top elective post.

"This is because some of the outgoing presidents then were already what we would call in political science 'lame duck' status, meaning they were not as popular," Arugay said.

Other 2022 presidential aspirants include Vice President Leni Robredo, senators Panfilo Lacson and Manny Pacquiao, labor leader Leody De Guzman, and Duterte's former spokesman Ernesto Abella.

The Comelec is expected to release this month the final list of candidates for the May 9, 2022 elections.