By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

PHOTO: George Calvelo/ABS-CBN News

Outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte is apparently distant to his successor President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. during the inauguration ceremony of Vice President-elect Sara Duterte in Davao City on Sunday, June 19. 

In the long-run of the Davao City mayor’s coming to office as the 15th vice president of the country, there is not a single scene where the Uniteam tandem and Sara's father had an interaction and conversation with each other. 

An up-close moment is when President Duterte and the late dictator's son stood side by side during a photo opportunity in the concluding part of the inauguration. 

In November last year, President Duterte quipped that he does not trust Marcos Jr., even calling him a “spoiled child” and a "weak leader.” 

While Duterte acknowledged that the former senator can speak articulately, he insisted that the latter is a “weak leader who has a baggage," which according to him will ruin the integrity of the country. He furthered that the Filipinos “might make a mistake” if Marcos Jr. will be elected as the next chief executive. 

Marcos Jr., who bared he is actively courting for the president’s endorsement, failed to secure his much hoped support from Duterte up until the last hour of the campaign season. The president maintained neutrality in his pick of a successor.

Duterte initially endorsed the presidential bid of his long-time aide turned senator, Christopher "Bong" Go. The latter, who was the standard bearer of PDP-Laban, withdrew his candidacy two weeks after he made the announcement. 

Earlier this month, President Duterte encouraged the Filipinos to come to terms with the election’s result and cooperate with Marcos Jr., noting that it is wrong to “just plain criticize” the incoming administration who is yet to implement its policies and programs.

As he is set to step down in his office on June 30, Duterte assured that there is a “smooth” and “peaceful” transition of power to Marcos Jr. 

“As we approach June 30, this administration is both ready and eager to hand over the reins of government to our incoming leaders. I assure everyone that this process will be smooth and peaceful as we want the next administration to succeed for the benefit of [the] country,” he said.

Father-daughter moment

Sara and her father, who have not spoken with each other since August last year, had their moment in the inauguration ceremony. 

The vice president-elect hugged her father after she took her oath of office, leading the massive crowd at San Pedro Square to erupt in cheers. 

According to reports, the two Dutertes are not also on good terms as the vice president-elect has not consulted her father regarding her political plans.

In her inaugural speech, Sara expressed her gratitude to the audience even if it is Father’s Day, which she noted should be a time for families to celebrate. 

“This is a time for families to celebrate, but you are here with me. Daghang salamat sa inyong pagtambong ug pagkuyog kanako niining adlawa,” the younger Duterte said. 

“Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers who make sure that another person is given the best of everything,” she continued. 

Sara also thanked the “loud and clear” 32,208,417 votes of the Filipinos, which she stressed is a call for her to serve the motherland and to consecrate herself to be of service to the nation.

“Ako po si Inday Sara, a proud Dabawenya— very proud. A proud Minadanaoan. Hindi ako ang pinaka-magaling o pinaka-matalinong tao sa Pilipinas o sa mundo, ngunit walang makakatalo sa tibay ng puso ko bilang isang Pilipino,” Duterte concluded in her speech. 

The presidential daughter is the first vice president from the Davao region and the third from Mindanao after Emmanuel Pelaez (1961 to 1965) and Teofisto Guingona Jr. (2001-2004).

She is also seen as the third presidential child to become the vice president, following the footsteps of Salvador Laurel (1986-1992) and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (1998-2001) whose fathers were former presidents Jose Laurel and Diosdado Macapagal.