By Ruben D. Torres/The Manila Times

LAST Wednesday's headline news was about President Duterte's desire to retire at the end of his term. In the same news, he was quoted as reiterating his advice to his daughter Sara not to run for president next year.

President Duterte was also quoted to have told the Kingdom of Jesus pastor, Apollo Quiboloy, that "he resisted the clamor of his party for him to run for vice president and choose his running mate president." Some may find this difficult to believe, considering that in 2016 he repeatedly asserted that there was no way he would run for president.

In a previous column, I wrote about the political ramifications of his running for vice president as nothing but a circumvention of the constitutional prohibition.

It seems Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio is being presented with a very difficult choice. Should she heed the "advice" of her father not to seek the presidency or give in to the "popular clamor" for her to run for president? For me, between an "advice" and a "clamor," I shall choose the latter. This should be an easy choice for the Honorable Mayor, as well.

I only know a few things about parenting. Luckily, my wife is a psychologist. We have four children. In the years that my three daughters and one son were growing up to become adolescents and eventually adults, my wife was the only one giving them guidance. While my children were growing up, I was active in the anti-dictatorship movement and had little time to help take care of them. In this regard, allow me to digress.

My organizational work as a cadre of the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas took all of my early evenings and weekends. The task given to me by the party was to organize the youth and students and to lecture on Marxism and other subjects to achieve the communist dream. My work with the University of the Philippines Law Center was only on workdays. When Marcos declared martial law, I was on the government's wanted list, so I had to go underground for more than three years. Then, when I realized I was being a willing victim of a false prophet, I left the party. I was granted amnesty, which enabled me to work in government again.

Despite my being a father in absentia during my children's growing up years, they did not give my wife problems. They are now professionals with their own careers, and three of them have their own families. My wife did a marvelous job. I did not give them advice then. And now I am the one who often seeks their advice.

Even as I have very limited experience as a father, I know that when children grow up to become teenagers, then adults, and later on have their own families, a father's advice or even direct orders are sometimes not followed.

Now, the daughter, Mayor Sara, is definitely an adult and already has her own family. She has achieved much as a city chief executive and as a politician. From what I read and hear, the Honorable Mayor really has her own mind. She must be a good daughter and the father President Duterte loves her very much. In the same interview, President Duterte is quoted to have said, "I told Sara: 'Sige ka trabaho, bababuyin ka. You do not deserve it. Anak kita, maawa ako sa iyo.'" This is indeed an expression of a true love of a father.

President Duterte may indeed be serious in advising his daughter not to run for president. But then, it is just advice, and Mayor Sara may heed it or not. Being an adult and married, she has declared her independence from her parents. And I do not believe that the father-daughter relationship will be gravely tarnished if Sara would not follow her father's advice. After all, it is only advice.

Sometimes, I like to perform the role of a devil's advocate or a Doubting Thomas. I ask the question: Does the President really want to dissuade Mayor Sara from being president? Or is he just forewarning her of the difficulties and problems she would encounter if she became one? And to paraphrase the President, the salary is just P200,000 per month. His advice is akin to the anti-Covid-19 vaccines which prepare your body's defense system for when the virus attacks.

President Duterte might even be unreasonable in advising his daughter not to run. If Sara becomes the next president, there is nothing really novel about it. In our political history, the daughter of President Diosdado Macapagal, Gloria, and the son of President Corazon Aquino, Noynoy, became presidents of the country. This is not to say that the daughter and the son were better than the father or the mother. But then, Mayor Sara may even be better than the father, even as some pundits say that the "spring cannot rise higher than its source."

Being a good public official is not in the genes. If progeny is an infallible guide to choose our leaders, the 1987 framers of the Constitution would not have prohibited "political dynasties" in Article II, Section 26, thereof. Sadly, however, this constitutional prohibition to this day remains just a pipe dream.

Ruben Torres was labor secretary in the Corazon Aquino administration and executive secretary to former president Fidel Ramos. At present, he is the general secretary of the Asean Trade Union Council. His email address is Follow him @RubenDTorres4.