2022 elections: Duterte tandem risks renewed dictatorship

With regard to the end of Rodrigo Duterte’s term in May 2022, he and his daughter Sara Duterte (mayor of Davao City) announced their intention to run in the 2022 national elections as a Duterte-Duterte tandem – the daughter as presidential candidate and the father for vice president. Such a constellation is worrisome because of the apparent “height of dynastic electoral politics,” but especially because „allowing [Duterte] to run for [vice president] can open the door to another dictatorship.“

Christian Monsod, former chairman of the Commission on Elections (Comlec), explains that Duterte, however, cannot run for the second-highest government position because he would theoretically succeed him as president. The Philippine Constitution limits a presidency to a one-time six-year term, exhausted by Duterte then. According to Monsod, it is thus clear that Duterte and his supporters have a plan „for him to occupy his office again through the backdoor because he cannot run for president again.“ This could make it more difficult for him to be held accountable by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity in the context of his so-called war on drugs, or dodge possible corruption charges against himself and his family.

According to Alan German, a political strategist, a strong and functioning opposition is needed to counter the culture of impunity and polarization and prevent civil unrest. Duterte’s administration, however, is cracking down on politicians who criticize the government’s line. The case against Antonio Trillanes, for example, will likely continue to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeals twice upheld his amnesty. The imprisoned opposition politician Leila De Lima, whom we reported on in March, is also continuing to fight an alleged false statement that strongly incriminates her.

Since June 17, 2021, also Philippine pages or their posts can now be found on Facebook and Instagram with the label “state-controlled media“. This should lead to more transparency, especially since the election campaign will increasingly take place online due to the pandemic. Radyo Pilipinas, the Philippine News Agency (PNA) and Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM), for example, are classified in this way. For the labelling “state-controlled media,” Facebook considers, among other factors, the ownership structure, financial sources, and editorial guidelines, such as transparency, diversity, and independence of content sources.

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