Inday is no Tatay

By Artchil B. Fernandez

Throughout her political life, Inday has lived in the shadow of Tatay. She molded her political persona in the image of her father. Inday tried hard to quack and walk like Tatay by mimicking his tough, hardline, and macho guise. She even attempted to outdo her father in roughness by publicly punching a court sheriff who was merely enforcing a valid court order.

In her venture into national politics, Sara Duterte derived her popularity from her father.  Pre-election surveys in 2022 election showed her the leading presidential candidate owing to the perception she is Tatay’s crown princess. The last survey prior to her final decision to become Bongbong Marcos (BBM) running mate still indicated her leading the pack of presidential bets.

Sara Duterte maintained her tough aura as vice president and upon assuming the education secretary post. At the Department of Education (DepEd) she was determined to cling to the image built around the persona of Tatay by declaring “basic education is intertwined with national security.”

To be fair, Sara Duterte never desired the DepEd post. Upon the confirmation of UniTeam’s victory, Inday publicly announced her interest to be the secretary of national defense.  In what was the first shot fired in the current skirmish between Team Agila and Team Tigre, BBM refused to give the defense portfolio to Inday. He instead placed her at DepEd, an area where Inday had no expertise much more experience. Was it a calculated move on the part of BBM to ensure that Inday will likely fail?

Thinking she is now the personification of Tatay in national politics, Inday emulated him in dealing with her critics. The elder Duterte deals with his critics by slandering or personally attacking them and in the case of Sen. Leila de Lima by locking her up. Giant television network ABS-CBN was shut down in an act of ultimate vendetta.  Tatay is vengeful in his ways and Inday copied him.

Inday’s way of handling the controversy surrounding her scandalous confidential funds is an exact copycat of Tatay. She was defiant in justifying her need for an unaudited 650 million pesos of taxpayers’ money. Vicious in verbally assaulting her critics, she called those who oppose her possessing hundreds of millions of unaccountable money enemies of peace and anti-people. “Whoever is going against confidential funds is going against peace. Whoever is going against peace is an enemy of the nation,” Inday boldly proclaimed.

Having assumed that she is now Tatay, Inday thought she can also get away with her insidious antics like her father. Despite notoriety, Du30 maintained high trust and performance ratings, earning him the moniker Teflon president.  Inday presumed she too is as invincible as Tatay.

Alas to her aghast, Inday discovered she is no Tatay. Her incendiary handling of the confidential funds brouhaha has significantly hurt her personally and politically.  She was roundly criticized, ridiculed, and universally reviled for her obsession with P650 million confidential funds.

Inday nowadays is a regular fodder to memes. Memes produced by events with national bearing like the recent breakup of the hugely popular Kathniel love team are complemented with Inday and her fixation with confidential funds memes. Memes mocking Inday are the current craze in the digital world. Sara Duterte is now a national butt of jokes. But the clearest manifestation that Inday is no Tatay is the steep plunged of her approval and trust ratings which fell by 11 points and 12 points respectively.

What happened to Inday brings sharp focus on charisma. It has been debated whether charisma is transferrable, or it can be inherited. Charisma is the basis of charismatic type of authority according to sociologist Max Weber.

“Charisma is the personal quality that makes an individual seem extraordinary, a quality by virtue of which supernatural, superhuman, or at least exceptional powers or properties are attributed to the individual: powers or properties that are not found in everyone and that are thought to be the gift of God or exemplary, rendering that individual a ‘leader’ (Führer)” (Weber 2019). Weber further argues that charisma involves “extraordinary and personal gift of grace, the absolutely personal devotion and personal confidence in revelation, heroism, or other qualities of individual leadership” (Weber 1946). Charisma resides in the personality of the person.

In the case of Inday and Tatay, it appears charisma is non-transferable, neither can it be inherited. Tatay has charisma, Inday has miasma. While Tatay got away with his dirty antics, Inday did not.

This explains why Inday recently disengaged from national conversation and Tatay took the center stage. Tatay is trying to use his charisma to shield Inday and save whatever is left of her political capital. In Team Agila’s calculation, Tatay’s charisma may reverse its political misfortunes and resuscitate Inday’s faltering political standing.

It will be interesting to see whether this strategy works. While Inday is on hibernation, spending time climbing mountains, Tatay is everywhere giving his one cent on current events and issues. Can Tatay’s charisma rescue Team Agila and is it a potent antidote to the venomous attacks of Team Tigre? Is Tatay’s charisma strong enough to dissipate Inday’s political miasma?

The controversy on confidential funds revealed Inday is no Tatay. Rebranding is the call of the hour. After decades of building her image around Tatay’s persona, what new political likeness will she don? Will the new Inday identity click with the public?  2028 is still five years away.  There will be many twists and turns in this political saga.