Duterte’s daughter sworn in as Vice President of the Philippines

Sarah Duterte, the daughter of the outgoing populist Philippine president, was sworn in as vice president on Sunday after a landslide election victory she won despite her father’s human rights reputation when thousands of drug suspects were shot to death.

The inauguration in their southern hometown of Davao, where she is the outgoing mayor, will take place two weeks before she takes office on June 30, as mandated by the constitution.

President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Duterte’s running mate, will be sworn in in Manila on June 30.

President Rodrigo Duterte, 77, led dignitaries in a closely guarded ceremony in a public square in the port city of Davao, where he also served as longtime mayor since the late 1980s.

Coming from a humble middle class background, his family has created a formidable political dynasty in a troubled southern region that has long been plagued by communist and Muslim insurgencies and violent political rivalries.

Mr. Duterte’s presidency has been marked by a vicious anti-drug campaign that has seen thousands of petty drug dealers shot to death by police or lynch mobs. The International Criminal Court is investigating him for crimes against humanity.

The electoral wins of Ms. Duterte and Mr. Marcos Jr. have alarmed leftist and human rights groups for their failure to recognize the massive human rights atrocities that took place under their fathers, including the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.


President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. during his House of Representatives speech in Quezon City, Philippines, May 25. (Aaron Favila/AP)

Mr. Marcos Jr. and Ms. Duterte have been campaigning on a vague platform of national unity, not clearly responding to calls from activists to take steps to prosecute Duterte Sr. when he retires from politics.

One of the president’s sons, Sebastian Duterte, will succeed his sister as mayor of Davao, while another son, Paolo Duterte, won a seat in the House of Representatives in the May 9 elections. The late father of the outgoing president was a former governor of Davao.

Philippine elections have long been dominated by politicians belonging to the same lineage. No less than 250 political families monopolized power throughout the country, although such dynasties are prohibited by the constitution. Congress, long controlled by members of the powerful clans targeted by the constitutional ban, failed to pass the legislation needed to define and enforce the provision.

Although Ms Duterte, 44, has turned down her father’s and supporters’ calls to run for president, she does not rule out her candidacy in the future. She topped the polls for the presidency last year and won by a huge margin, as did Mr. Marcos Jr.

In addition to vice president, she agreed to serve as secretary of education, although there were reports that her initial preference was to lead the Department of National Defense, the traditional springboard to the presidency.

However, the education portfolio will provide her first often-troubled national political platform, especially with plans to resume physical education shortly after the country has been hit hard by two years of coronavirus outbreaks and lockdowns.

“Our constitution does not define any specific position for the vice president, except that he or she must be the pending president, and except when he or she is assigned a position in the cabinet,” she told reporters.

She thanked her supporters in Davao and said she had decided to hold her inauguration in one of the most developed cities in the country to show her pride as a southern provincial politician who had achieved high national office.

A mother of three, she completed a medical course and originally wanted to become a doctor, but later took up law and was coaxed into politics starting in 2007, when she was elected Vice Mayor and Mayor of Davao three years later.

In 2011, she gained national attention when she was videotaped beating and assaulting a judicial sheriff who was helping police demolish a slum despite her plea for a brief reprieve. The court employee received a black eye and facial injuries, and her bodyguards took her to the hospital.

Despite public feuds with her father, Duterte shaved her hair a year before the 2016 election in support of his campaign.