Marcos: Sara keeps DepEd; Liza just ‘not used to politics’

Bongbong Marcos feels 'lucky' to have a 'very protective' wife

The First Couple, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos (left), and Vice President Sara Duterte PHOTOS FROM THE OFFICIAL FACEBOOK PAGES OF MARCOS AND DUTERTE

MANILA, Philippines — Being “neither incompetent nor corrupt,” Vice President Sara Duterte will retain her post as education secretary, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Tuesday, as he played down the rift between his wife Liza Araneta-Marcos and the country’s second-highest official.

In an interview with reporters in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, Marcos said he planned to speak with the Vice President regarding the derisive comments made by the first lady questioning Duterte’s sincerity as the other half of the winning “UniTeam” presidential ticket in the 2022 elections.

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

“Why? I don’t see the reason behind that,” the President said when asked to comment on calls to remove Duterte as the concurrent head of the Department of Education (DepEd).

The Chief Executive pointed out that Cabinet members should only be replaced if they were not doing their jobs well, and that “all other things are not part of the discussion.”

“If you can no longer perform your tasks, just tell me, we will replace you. If you are incompetent or corrupt, we will remove you. Inday is not like that,” Marcos said, using Duterte’s nickname.

He assured the public that the feud between Duterte and the first lady would not affect his working relationship with the Vice President.

READ: VP: First lady’s ‘feelings’ have ‘nothing to do with my mandate’

Lucky husband

The President expressed optimism that Duterte, as a wife herself, would understand Araneta-Marcos’ feelings as someone who only wished to protect her husband.

“I think that she, as a wife, understands how the first lady feels when you have to sit there and listen to these attacks that are being made against your husband… Our conversation will be precisely that,” Marcos said.

He said Araneta-Marcos, a lawyer and law professor, “was not used to politics” and that she “still has a lot to learn.”

“The first lady is not used to politics. We politicians are used to personal insults; we’re numb to that. She didn’t come from a political family, so maybe she still has a lot to learn in letting hurtful, heated words pass,” the President said.

The Araneta family, however, has been involved in politics since the Commonwealth period.

Araneta-Marcos is a second cousin of former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, as her father is the first cousin of Judy Araneta-Roxas, wife of former Sen. Gerardo Roxas, the son of former President Manuel Roxas. Her mother’s youngest sister was married to the eldest brother of former President Corazon Aquino.

Marcos also remarked that he was a “lucky husband” for having a protective wife in Araneta-Marcos.

“When she hears something bad said against me, she gets very upset. I guess we cannot blame her,” he said.

Easy to smooth out

Marcos went on: “But the Vice President and I will talk. We will talk about it. She (the first lady) shouldn’t take it to heart. It wasn’t the Vice President who said those things anyway. I think it will be easy to smooth out those issues.”

In an interview with broadcaster Anthony Taberna that aired last Friday, the President’s wife said Duterte “crossed the line” during the Jan. 28 anti-Charter change rally held in Davao City, when she supposedly laughed after former President Rodrigo Duterte called Marcos “bangag” (under the influence of drugs).

On Monday, Duterte addressed the matter for the first time, saying Araneta-Marcos’ personal feelings had nothing to do with her mandate as a government official.

The Vice President said she would have a “private conversation” with Marcos “so that we can move forward” and “determine the next steps.”

Duterte stressed that there were other big problems that needed the government’s action, like inflation, hunger, poverty, inadequate water and power, criminality, insurgency and illegal drugs.

Best of both worlds

Araneta-Marcos’ remarks against the Vice President had elicited calls for Duterte’s firing or resignation.

Former Sen. Leila de Lima said Duterte’s “loyalties are very clear.”

“They remain with her family, who called [the President] names and called for his ouster,” she said in a statement.

“She is having her cake and eating it, too. Namamangka sa dalawang ilog (Sailing on two rivers),” added De Lima, a vocal critic of the Duterte administration.

The Vice President “has a choice,” the former senator said. “Join the rallies but resign, or don’t resign but condemn the [anti-Marcos] rallies and tell her family to stop [attacking Marcos].”

In a statement, Manila Rep. Joel Chua said Duterte’s continued stay in DepEd was “detrimental to education as a matter of accountability, character, integrity and competence.”

“We will continue to hold her accountable for her failures as Vice President and as DepEd secretary,” Chua said, adding: “She is not exempt from being held accountable.”

“She cannot have the best of both worlds by being a fence sitter while her family and their allies challenge the authority and mandate of [the President] while having little to show for in terms of substantive results at DepEd, where she is secretary,” he said. —WITH A REPORT FROM KRIXIA SUBINGSUBING INQ