Asia

Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter sworn in as new Philippine vice president

Sara Duterte, the daughter of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, on Sunday took the oath as vice president of the Philippines, in a heavily guarded ceremony in her southern hometown of Davao, where she is outgoing mayor.

Duterte, who won a landslide victory in last month’s election, was surrounded by her immediate family, including her father, as she took the oath two weeks ahead of president-elected Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who also attended the swearing-in ceremony.

Marcos will be sworn in as the new president of the Philippines on June 30.

Duterte’s swearing in-event in Davao city, which has been bombed twice by militants this century, saw more than 4,000 police personnel on duty, as thousands were in attendance to witness the ceremony.

In a speech after she was sworn in, Duterte, 44, promised to dedicate herself to the nation.

“The voice of 32.2 million Filipinos was loud and clear – with the message to serve our motherland. And this message has been reiterated in my oath: to consecrate myself to the service of the nation,” Duterte said.

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“When I committed myself to governance and public service, I was also determined to finish three consecutive terms as mayor. That will not happen anymore,” referring to her role as the head of Davao’s government.

Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando, whom her father appointed as the 180th member of the Supreme Court in 2018, administered the oath.

Newly installed Philippine Vice President, Sara Duterte, carries one of her three children as she is surrounded by other immediate relatives, including mother, Elizabeth Zimmerman (to her left), and father and outgoing President, Rodrigo Duterte (extreme right), during her inauguration in Davao City in the Philippines, June 19, 2022. [Jason Gutierrez/BenarNews]

Duterte, who succeeded her father as Davao City mayor, is popular, but known for being tough. She has often drawn comparisons to her father, who is infamous for his blunt, profanity-laden rhetoric, and being tough in fighting crime. As mayor, his daughter once punched a government official in front of news cameras.

A lawyer and a reserved colonel in the Philippine Army, Duterte has long been groomed for public office. She has carved out a political path similar to her father’s, but instead of emulating his traditional populist style, she has taken on a more pragmatic approach.

She first became Davao City mayor in 2010, switching roles with her father, who replaced her as deputy mayor to circumvent constitutional limits for elected officials running for the same office thrice.

A senior Human Rights Watch researcher, meanwhile, told BenarNews that Duterte in her new position as the country’s second highest official will likely block attempts by the International Criminal Court to prosecute her father and the outgoing president for the thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings in his anti-drug war.

“We expect her to protect her father from investigation and prosecution, particularly from the International Criminal Court,” Carlos Conde said.

“We expect her to frustrate domestic attempts to bring her father to justice. There may be attempts to file cases against him because of the abuses in the past six years, so we see Sara using the might of her office and the support of the Marcoses to head off any of those possible cases,” he added.

The majority of the victims of the elder Duterte’s drug war have been poor people living in slums or low-income neighborhoods. Some of them were minors, including young children hit by stray bullets.

In November, the ICC announced it was temporarily halting its probe into the alleged extrajudicial killings to assess a request from the Philippines for the court to defer to Manila’s own investigation into the drug war.

However, Romel Regalado Bagares, a Filipino lawyer who was part of a group that represented drug-war victims, said at that time that the ICC suspension was not a win for the government since the prosecutor would continue to work on information already gathered.

Jeoffrey Maitem, Dennis Jay Santos and Camille Elemia from Davao City, southern Philippines, contributed to this report.

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