President Rodrigo Duterte will not be supporting the reelection of Davao del Norte First District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez as he said that his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte is now “in control” of the Duterte family’s political decisions. President Duterte giving Sara the mandate on political decisions would be a fatal blow on Alvarez’s bid to return to Congress. Sara has an ax to grind against Alvarez and has vowed to campaign against the reelection of the former Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Sara chairs the Hugpong Ng Pagbabago (HNP), a Davao regional political party she organized, that is fielding incumbent Governor Anthony del Rosario against Alvarez in the May 13 elections. Alvarez carries the banner of the Alvarez Wing, a local bloc of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino/Lakas ng Bayan (PDP/Laban), of which he is secretary general. Duterte chairs the ruling party. HNP is fielding a full region-wide slate in the coming election. In Davao del Norte, Sara’s party will battle it out with Alvarez’s Alvarez Wing. Even as the President and Alvarez belong to the same party, President Duterte is not expected to campaign for Alvarez and will avoid a head-on collision with his daughter by staying away from the political intramurals in Davao del Norte. In Cebu City on Sunday, February 24, President Duterte said his daughter is now in control of some important political decisions in their family. “Sara is in control,” said the President in his speech at the campaign rally for the PDP/Laban senatorial bets in Cebu City’s Plaza Independencia. He was refering to his decision to give Sara the right to plan out the Duterte family’s political plans.
I cannot control Sara. I do not control Sara, he also said. In early July last year, an angered Sara lambasted then Speaker Alvarez for calling the HNP as an “opposition party.”
The presidential daughter also described Alvarez as an “asshole.” Pushing her rage farther, Sara said Alvarez is a “liability to the Duterte administration” and called on members of the House to kick out the Speaker. She also slammed Alvarez, who as the then Speaker was the No. 4 most powerful official in the country, for reportedly boasting that he can have President Duterte impeached. The rift ended up politically tragic for Alvarez, who would later emerge with the record of being the only Speaker who would be ousted by his peers. Alvarez was kicked out only two years after becoming House Speaker. Sara played a key role in the fall from grace of Alvarez, a fact confirmed by President Duterte. Hours before President Duterte delivered his 2nd State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23, the House super-majority voted to replace Alvarez as Speaker with former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The fall-out in Alvarez’s political debacle was worse: Sara has also vowed to campaign against his reelection in the 2019 mid-term election. In an earlier statement, HNP said Sara would go on a campaign blitz against Alvarez in Davao del Norte at the start of the campaign period for local elections. Alvarez would be the second politician who held the post of Speaker that she would lock horns with. In the 2010 election, Sara soundly defeated, with a vote margin of more than 300,000, then sitting Speaker Prospero Nograles in the Davao City mayoral contest.
Alvarez’s attempt to return to Congress is paved with rough roads. He will not only contend with Sara, but is also facing off with the political machinery of the powerhouse Floirendo-Del Rosario tandem. In the bench of Sara’s HNP are Gov. del Rosario against Alvarez in the 1st District, reelectionist Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr. versus Vice Gov. Alan Dujali (Alvarez Wing) in the 2nd District and Board Member Rodolfo “Rodney” del Rosario Jr. fighting virtual unknown Edwin Jubahib (Alvarez Wing) in the gubernatorial race. HNP also has for campaign manager veteran politician former governor Rodolfo del Rosario Sr., father of Gov. del Rosario and older brother Rodney. Three months away to E-Day on May 13, Alvarez and candidates of his Alvarez Wing are way down below at the bottom in pre-poll surveys, hovering but points way from Ground Zero, of independent Facebook group surveys and by the Davao Region-based pollster Pulso Dabaw.