Marcos urged: Rethink keeping VP as education chief

Marcos urged: Rethink keeping VP as education chief

/ 05:32 AM April 20, 2024

Sara Duterte prays for peace and unity as nation observes Holy Week 2024

Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio | PHOTO: Official Facebook page of Inday Sara Duterte

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. should rethink whether he should continue having an alter ego who “constantly undermines him,” a lawmaker said on Friday after first lady Liza Araneta-Marcos admitted she was displeased and hurt by Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte’s response to a personal attack against her husband.

The President’s wife referred to how Duterte reacted with laughter when the Vice President’s father, former President Rodrigo Duterte, called Marcos “bangag” (stoned) during an anti-Charter change rally in Davao City last January, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro said.


READ: First lady bares beef with Sara for laughing at ‘addict’ claim


Last week, the ex-president, who courted support and aid from Beijing, said Marcos was a “crybaby” for seeking US help in dealing with China in the West Philippine Sea.

The Vice President also refused to make any direct comment in support of the President’s actions in the maritime dispute with China but was openly and vehemently opposed to Marcos’ move to provide an opening for a possible resumption of peace talks with communist rebels.

All in the family

Other members of the Duterte family have also strongly criticized the President’s leadership.

Davao City Mayor Sebastian Duterte, the Vice President’s younger brother, had called on Marcos to resign. Her other brother Rep. Paolo Duterte had called the President’s policies on China and the West Philippine Sea as a demonization of China.

READ: Marcos on his relationship with Duterte clan: ‘It’s complicated’

Castro said that she recognized that it was the President’s prerogative to choose members of his Cabinet, even if they included “someone who undermines him and not wholehearted” in showing support for him.


What DepEd needs

She said that ACT, the largest teachers’ union in the country, had always wanted that the post held by the Vice President in the Cabinet had gone to someone qualified and experienced in the education sector.

Castro said that their colleagues at the Department of Education (DepEd) were looking for a “hands-on” and “competent” education secretary.

“If he (the President) were to replace his secretary, then he should get someone he should have gotten in the first place: someone who knows education and whose decisions actually better the sector,” she said.

“But one thing is for sure: the rift between the Marcoses and the Dutertes have really gone off the deep end, and the former ‘Uniteam’ has been disunited—buwag na buwag na (demolished),” Castro said.

READ: ‘It’s the fentanyl,’ Marcos says after former president Duterte tags him ‘drug addict’

ACT chair Vladimer Quetua said Duterte should focus on her role as education secretary.

Challenge remains

“With or without their political feud or bickering, the truth is, the teachers are still looking for her response to the crisis (in the education sector),” Quetua told Inquirer in a phone interview.

Nearly two years into her leadership at DepEd, Duterte has yet to manifest an effective governance that would address issues on the learning gaps of students as well as the meager salaries and physical and mental burdens carried by teachers, noted Quetua.

“We think the more relevant matters would be neglected if VP Sara chooses to work on how her family will stay in power or secure the next elections,” he said when asked whether the seeming bad blood between Duterte and the first lady would affect her leadership of the DepEd.

“That’s why our challenge for the DepEd secretary remains … she should work on improving the state of education in the country.”

Part of strategy?

Castro said it was possible that both Marcos and the Dutertes were fighting a proxy war, with Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, an ally of the former president, calling on the President to resign while Speaker Martin Romualdez, the President’s cousin, retaliating by calling for an investigation of the ex-president’s gentleman’s agreement with China on the West Philippine Sea.

Romualdez also wanted to see Alvarez slapped with sedition charges.

Marcos has been mum on his relationship with his Vice President, which Castro sees as “part of a strategy so Marcos can still appear chummy with the Dutertes while his wife, Liza, does the attacking.”

“After all, it was in his best interest to still look calm and collected before the Duterte camp,” she said. “I’m sure he would want to project an image that a reunification would still be possible.”

READ: ‘I know what line not to cross’ – FL Liza on Imee Marcos

Castro, who has been a lawmaker for three Congresses now, said the public falling out between Marcos and the Vice President came early. Disagreements between the country’s two top leaders usually happen “near the end of their terms,” she said.

Castro was careful to qualify that Mrs. Marcos herself was not an elected official and had no business interfering in governance issues, unlike the Vice President.

Expressions of support

“It’s an open secret that she really meddles in government affairs, as seen during her feud with former Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez,” Castro said. Rodriguez was booted out of the Palace after running afoul of the first lady.

The first lady received support from the city mayors of Bacolod and Iloilo in her statements against the Vice President.

Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez said Duterte should step down as education secretary as a matter of “delicadeza” (propriety) and to preserve the integrity and unity of the administration.

“In light of recent events, it is crucial for all Cabinet members to uphold the utmost support and unity. Secretary Sara’s presence at events where the leadership is criticized has raised concerns,” Benitez, a close ally of Marcos, said in a statement.

In his statement on Friday, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said he empathized with the first lady in her “disappointment that the Vice President attends rallies where the President is criticized,” adding that participating in such events and reacting with “amusement” to the attacks was “inappropriate.”

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“As the secretary of education, she is a key member of the President’s Cabinet. A certain level of solidarity is expected. There are unspoken rules and lines that should not be crossed,” Treñas said. —WITH REPORTS FROM KATHLEEN DE VILLA AND CARLA GOMEZ 

TAGS: Bongbong Marcos, Education chief, VP Sara

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