January 30, 2024
DAVAO CITY – The Duterte family has finally drawn the battle lines in its uncertain alliance with President Marcos.
From Mayor Sebastian “Baste” Duterte calling for Mr. Marcos’ resignation to his brother Rep. Paolo Duterte lashing out at a party list representative heading a people’s initiative campaign in this city, and now former President Rodrigo Duterte warning Mr. Marcos that he may be ousted like his father—almost the entire Duterte family, indeed, vented its resentment toward the President in a rally here on Sunday night timed with Mr. Marcos’ “Bagong Pilipinas” (New Philippines) launch in Manila.
“I feel very bad [because] the ICC (International Criminal Court) never landed in this country before but after the change of administration, they’re suddenly here and they want to imprison my father,” Baste said in a gathering before the Sunday night rally, referring to the ICC’s investigation in the drug war case against his father.
The mayor reminded the President of his father’s accommodation of the Marcos family’s request to have the remains of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos Sr. exhumed to the Heroes’ Cemetery.
“Think of the Romanovs, Mussolini and his wife, think of what happened to you [and your family] in 1986, maybe, you will reconsider the decision you are taking,” Baste said of the Charter change (Cha-cha) drive being pushed by Mr. Marcos’ congressional allies.
For critics of that campaign, the President has not openly associated himself with it, but he has not put his foot down on this move either.
For Vice President Sara Duterte, her youngest brother’s remarks only showed his “brotherly love” toward her, amid “the despicable treatment I am receiving from some sectors within the circle of the President,” she said in a statement in Filipino.
The Duterte patriarch himself had a lot to say against Mr. Marcos and his relatives, accusing them of supporting moves to tinker with the Constitution.
Duterte warned that if Cha-cha would push through, he would ask the military and the police to arrest the President and defend the Constitution.
“By the grace of God, babalik ako sa puesto (I will return to power),” Duterte said as his supporters chanted his name.
He also lamented the ICC investigation: “Why do I have an ICC investigation? They said I had drug addicts killed. It’s a good thing I’m no longer in power or else I might include you.”
‘Point of no return’
For Sen. Francis Escudero, Sunday’s separate rallies by Mr. Marcos and the Dutertes have “put an end to the UniTeam.” He was referring to the 2022 tandem of then presidential candidate Marcos and his running mate Sara Duterte.
The Vice President had stopped by the Bagong Pilipinas rally in her capacity as education secretary, whose agency had also attended that event, before flying to her hometown of Davao City to attend the rally there led by her father.
Responding to Duterte’s Sunday night speech, Romualdez said, “I think some courtesy and respect are called for our President and his family.”
“It’s too early for you to want to see [the President’s] downfall,” said the Speaker, who also challenged Duterte to prove his allegations of drug use against Mr. Marcos.
Sought for comment, lawyer Barry Gutierrez, a former spokesperson for former Vice President Leni Robredo, said: “They have now crossed the Rubicon. There have been indicators that their relations have already soured—but now it’s out in the open.”
University of the Philippines political science professor Jean Encinas-Franco said, “I think they have now gone past the point of no return.”
She added: “The problem is that they (Mr. Marcos and the Dutertes) have never really been together. Their unity was really just for the purpose of winning the elections and not over platforms.”