Sara Duterte, daughter of outgoing Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, will run for vice president in the 2022 elections, the government's election monitor said Saturday, after months of speculation she would seek the top job.
The Commission on Elections announced on its official Facebook page that Duterte would be running for the country's second-highest office, replacing another candidate.
"This is to confirm that Mayor Inday Sara Duterte through her representative, has filed her Certificate of Candidacy for Vice President under Lakas-CMD (party)," her spokesperson Christina Garcia Frasco said on Facebook.
Her decision came just before the Nov. 15 deadline for candidates to make a late entry into the May elections.
She was immediately endorsed by the party of Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of the former dictator, to be his running mate in the poll.
Duterte had been widely expected to run for president in a bid to succeed her father, who is constitutionally barred from seeking a second six-year term and is facing an investigation by the International Criminal Court into his deadly drug war.
For months, she had insisted she wanted to serve another term as Davao City mayor, the family's southern bailiwick, despite consistently leading in surveys of voter preferences for the next president.
Speculation about her plans intensified this week after she suddenly withdrew from the mayoral contest, quit her regional party and joined Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats, the national political party of her close ally and former Philippines president Gloria Arroyo.
"I thank my supporters. I hope whatever happens in the next few days, I will be able to give them what they want," Duterte told reporters Thursday on the sidelines of a wedding.
Sara Duterte's decision to run for vice president leaves Marcos Jr. in a strong position for the presidency.
Popularly known as Bongbong, Marcos Jr. has been in the second spot in voter surveys, ahead of celebrity mayor Francisco Domagoso, boxing great Manny Pacquiao and incumbent Vice President Leni Robredo.
There was speculation Duterte had sought to persuade Marcos Jr. to slide back into the vice presidential race and create a formidable alliance between the two clans.
In the Philippines, the president and vice president are elected separately.
The Marcos family stronghold stretches across the country's north and center, while the Dutertes enjoy widespread support in the south.
But Marcos Jr., who was at the same wedding Thursday and was seen walking arm-in-arm with Duterte, told reporters, "I will continue with my plan. I entered this race to run for president.”
"Duterte running for the vice presidency ... more or less seals Bongbong Marcos' position as the top contender, the candidate to beat in these elections," political analyst Richard Heydarian told AFP.