Duterte’s daughter starting to shore up support for him

This article is more than 12 months old

MANILA Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte thinks political dynasties are bad.

But the way the prevailing political winds are blowing, it looks like a dynasty of his own might be taking shape.

Nine months from mid-term elections that could determine the success or failure of his presidency, his daughter Sara is emerging as a power-broker aiming to shore up support for his ambitious policy agenda, and, said some experts and insiders, his eventual succession.

By his own admission, the 73-year-old is flagging.

On Tuesday, he lamented his uphill struggle to tackle illicit drugs and cut state corruption, predicting that he will "hardly make a dent" in his remaining four years in office.

That contrasts sharply from his 40-year-old daughter, who has started manoeuvring to build alliances and expand her small party in the southern Davao region into a new political juggernaut, as fissures appear in her father's ruling PDP-Laban party.

She was instrumental in bringing together political factions to stage a dramatic July 23 ousting of divisive Duterte ally Pantaleon Alvarez as lower House Speaker, replacing him with veteran Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, 71, a former president with clout to ensure support for Mr Duterte and his agenda.

The move was helped by a relationship developing between Ms Duterte and Ms Imee Marcos, 62, a provincial governor and key figure in the still influential family of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled the Philippines for two decades before being ousted in a 1986 uprising.

Mr Richard Heydarian, an author, columnist and academic who specialises in politics, said the Marcos family wanted to stay relevant nationally and in a political culture where loyalties easily shift, Ms Duterte was now widely seen as a figure worth rallying behind.

"Now is the chance to further consolidate power by controlling both houses of congress and the local government units so all of us can we move forward in cadence," said a member of a nine-party alliance formed by Ms Duterte last week.

He requested anonymity, saying only Ms Duterte could speak about the alliance.

"The goal is, fill the Senate with people who can help ... We don't want people who will only obstruct plans." - REUTERS