Covid 19, Sara Duterte and running an LGU

With Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio almost a runaway winner for next year’s presidential elections at 28% in the latest Pulse Asia Research survey, it isn’t surprising at all that all guns are now being trained on her in a desperate bid to shoot down her possible candidacy.

Since three weeks ago, Mayor Inday has been visiting various parts of the country meeting with local leaders, and it didn’t take long before the purpose of her cross-country trips was to solicit feedback to help her decide on whether to heed the clamor or not.

Until her visit to Cebu City last July 9, Mayor Inday has been coy about the possibility of running for President. Her father, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, has expressed opposition to the idea, saying the Presidency isn’t for women, and he didn’t want to see his daughter suffer the insufferable insults and criticism that comes with the job description.

At the start of the year, when her name was on top of a Pulse Asia survey, Mayor Inday declared she had no intention to run and asked poll survey companies to remove her name from the list of probables shown to respondents.

It isn’t known if this request was heeded by the survey firms. But just the same, these survey outfits allow respondents to list down names of their preferences if he or she does not appear in their list.

Her name simply can’t stay off the lists of probables, and neither did it change in her topmost ranking. She emerged number one in the Pulse Asia survey for the first quarter of 2021 released last April. After a lapse of three months, Mayor Inday’s position stood in that same number one position.

Apparently, the clamor had reached a crescendo, making it difficult for her to ignore it. About three weeks ago, pictures of her visiting the family of San Pedro City vice mayor Art Mercado circulated on Facebook. Her trips were quite low-profile, with indications of where she had gone to visit only coming out in social media posts.

It was in Cebu City when Mayor Inday finally faced the media and admitted that she was “open” to the possibility of running for President and succeed her father.

Understandably, that drove the opposition nuts. When a possible presidential candidate could attract such strong support without even declaring her intention speaks volumes about where it would ultimately bring her — a landslide victory. It would be safe to assume that in the next survey cycle, her lead in the polls will get a tremendous boost, and her numbers could only go up more.

Hence, it’s not surprising to see a barrage of criticism levelled against her for supposedly going away for these consultation trips while her city is confronted by the Covid 19 threat. Without a doubt, her consultation visits are now seen as a real threat to their own political ambitions. Sara’s increased visibility in other parts of the country can only result in attracting wider support, and cause their own plans to evaporate into thin air.

The answer to these criticisms is a no brainer. As local chief executive, Mayor Inday can run the City of Davao as effectively if she were in the foothills of Mt. Pinatubo as she could from City Hall. In case these critics are still ignorant about technology (which is, of course, not true) a chief executive remains in charge of the LGU without having to stay in the city hall physically. With Zoom, virtual face-to-face meetings are now ordinary activities. Constituents can bring their complaints and appeals for help through Facebook, Twitter or even Instagram.

In short, it makes no difference anymore whether Mayor Inday stays in Davao 24/7 physically or not. She can make her presence virtually felt 24/7 through social media. And decisions can be made as quickly on virtual platforms as when she is inside the Mayor’s office.

And, Mayor Inday can delegate the day-to-day management of City Hall to her Vice Mayor. She said she has filed leaves of absences for the periods covering her trips. From the purview of the Local Government Code, she is not doing anything wrong.

If her absence from Davao on these short trips might look detrimental to the welfare of her constituents, the complaints should come from them, and not from politicians who are getting jittery about Mayor Inday growing stronger by the day.