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[OPINION] Sara's card

By Gerry Lirio Published Jun 19, 2024 9:06 pm Updated Jun 20, 2024 12:19 am

The country’s political pundits have long been waiting for it. Sara Duterte, the country’s vice president and daughter of former President Rodrigo Duterte, has resigned her post as secretary of education, ending months and months of speculation.

The waiting game ended on Wednesday afternoon, with a Palace statement confirming her resignation. Or is it? Whatever, the resignation was easily the Top Story of the Day.

It came swift, but it lacked the drama befitting a controversial political leader, the acknowledged political diva, if not kingmaker of the South.  She is a political diva, because she got more votes than her President. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. could have lost the May 2022 elections, some people believed, had she not agreed to become his running mate. Kingmaker, because she once led a political coup to unseat the Speaker of the House with her choice lawmaker. In a statement read live at the Department of Education, the Vice President looked and sounded like an amateur speech reader.

She resigned, she said, but her decision did not mean it was a sign of weakness. Unfortunately this time the diva could not trill her notes. Limelight burns? The public could hardly feel her pain, of the things she was going through. She didn’t sound as sharp as when she called a Marcos lieutenant, with the now famous “tambaloslos” remark. Neither did she look fiery, as fiery as when she held a sheriff by the throat in Davao City years ago. She probably didn’t have to explain why she would leave the education portfolio, not to the men and women who have seen better education chiefs, from OD Corpuz to Raul Roco. She was never at par, in the first place.

But the Palace’ s acceptance of the resignation was just as cold, too perfunctory for the other half of a couple who gave birth and gave face to UniTeam, believed to have been the May 2022’s magic formula uniting the power blocks of the North and of the South in a nation of so many discordant voices. How easy it is to call for a political divorce!

So, it is official! Sara sought a divorce, and she got it. The long wait is over. But neither the Palace nor the Vice President (she still is) provided no reason for her departure, which the President quickly accepted. 

The Palace was so cold, it made us wonder more. There was no reason given, nothing like personal incapacity. Which begged for more questions. Like: Did she resign because of First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos? Did she get in the way of her job, the first lady having been the talk-of-the-town as the one running the affairs not of the heart? Did she say something more, apart from calling her “bad shot”? Have things gone untenable?

Never mind the first lady, but we never saw Marcos publicly humiliating Sara, the way her father badly treated his Vice President Leni Robredo.

Where lies the root of Sara’s resignation? She didn’t sound like Vice President Fernando Lopez bravely calling his political partner, Ferdinand Marcos, a dictator, but showed fear that Marcos would seize the Lopez family’s wealth and power if Marcos would secure a permanent lease in Malacanang, weeks before he kicked him out of the office.

Sara didn’t sound like Vice President Doy Laurel whining about getting ignored in the Corazon Aquino Cabinet despite his supreme sacrifice of letting go of his presidential ambition to give way to her and to unite the opposition against Marcos in the February 1986 snap presidential elections.

Is it because of her father, of his impending ICC arrest, another much-awaited event?  Is the resignation a prelude to more political acrobats in the next few months?

In the last six months, there were only four major issues hogging the headlines, all these covering the West Philippine Sea, Pogo, the United States and China, Marcos, and the Dutertes, Nothing more, nothing less. Like it or not, all these stories are intertwined.

If pundits were to be believed, the public can expect more political actions in the next few months. Sara’s resignation only marked the beginning of it all.

Obviously, Marcos is pro-US, and it overwhelmed the young Marcos no end, that he is important to the US now, in the face of new world order, coming from a painful, most embarrassing fall from power when even Marcos’ family friends in the US would ditch them after the Edsa revolution. Is his new-found importance to the US probably too big to prevent an ICC arrest? Crime must pay, but we also wonder why the cases against the Marcos in the US are at a snail’s pace.

Duterte is pro-China, and he allowed Pogo to feast on various places and spaces in the country. Years later, where are we now?

The last time Sara was passionate in her speech was when she called the police attention about the “excessive display of force” when they tried to arrest the Duterte family’s long-time family friend, Apollo Quiboloy, last week, echoing her father’s statement. So ironic that the man behind the bloody drug war would call for police restraint. There should be, except that father and daughter were not the best persons to call for it.

The Marcoses and the Dutertes are at odds, and the country is in shambles. How are we supposed to look forward to the endgame?

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the opinions of PhilSTAR L!fe, its parent company and affiliates, or its staff.