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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Sara Duterte Resigns as DepEd Secretary and NTF-ELCAC Vice Chairperson

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Manila, Philippines – Vice President Sara Duterte has resigned from her positions as Secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd) and Vice Chairperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), Malacañang announced on Wednesday.

Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Cheloy Garafil confirmed that Duterte submitted her resignation at 2:21 p.m. on Wednesday during a visit to Malacañang. She did not provide specific reasons for her resignation.

“She [Duterte] declined to give a reason why. She will continue to serve as Vice President. We thank her for her service,” Garafil said, noting that President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. accepted Duterte’s resignation from the Cabinet.

Duterte was appointed as DepEd Secretary on June 30, 2022, after the Marcos-Duterte UniTeam won the 2022 elections. During a speech at the DepEd Main Office in Pasig City, Duterte confirmed her resignation and assured an orderly transition.

“Whatever story, no matter how good, still comes to an end. Earlier today, June 19, 2024, I sought an audience with the President and tendered my resignation as the Secretary of Education effective July 19, 2024,” she said. “I have given my 30-day notice to ensure the proper and orderly transition for the benefit of the next secretary.”

Duterte expressed gratitude for the support she received from teachers, non-teaching personnel, local government units, and private stakeholders during her tenure. She vowed to continue advocating for the rights and welfare of all teachers and learners in the country. Duterte emphasized, “My resignation is not because of weakness but because of true concern for teachers and the youth.”

Under Duterte’s leadership, the DepEd launched its MATATAG Agenda to address challenges in the education sector. The MATATAG Agenda focuses on making the curriculum relevant, accelerating the delivery of basic education facilities and services, promoting learner well-being and inclusive education, and supporting teachers.

Duterte’s tenure was marked by efforts to improve the quality of education and make it more accessible, which NTF-ELCAC executive director Undersecretary Ernesto Torres Jr. highlighted as vital in combating local communist insurgency.

“She spearheaded various programs aimed at improving the quality of education and making it more accessible, thereby addressing one of the key factors contributing to local conflicts,” Torres said. “Her leadership has also emphasized the importance of education as a vital component in combating insurgency.”

Courtesy: OneNews / YouTube

Political Implications and Reactions

In the Philippines, where the president and vice president are elected separately, the vice president’s powers are largely limited to ceremonial roles unless appointed to a cabinet position. The Marcos and Duterte families joined forces in 2022, with Sara Duterte standing as Marcos’ vice-presidential running mate, allowing him to tap the Duterte family’s huge support base and seal a comeback for the disgraced Marcos dynasty.

This alliance, however, was always expected to be temporary. Analysts were surprised by how soon tensions escalated after Marcos’ predecessor and Sara’s father, Rodrigo Duterte, accused the president in January of using drugs. Additionally, Duterte’s son, the mayor of Davao City, called for Marcos’ resignation at the time, and Sara did not object to these calls.

“It is the break we have all been waiting for,” said Jean Encinas-Franco, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines, regarding the vice president’s decision to step down from her cabinet post. Franco noted that Sara Duterte, who continues to enjoy high trust ratings based on independent opinion polls, would now have more leeway to criticize Marcos’ policies.

Since coming to power in 2022, Marcos has reversed Rodrigo Duterte’s pro-China stance and pivoted back to the United States, granting Washington greater access to Philippine bases amid China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea and near Taiwan. Marcos also highlighted the 2016 arbitral ruling fortifying Manila’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, which former president Rodrigo Duterte had largely set aside.

A major blow to the Marcos-Duterte relationship came late last year when Marcos said the government was considering rejoining the International Criminal Court, nearly five years after Rodrigo Duterte withdrew membership over objections to a bid by the court to investigate a bloody anti-narcotics campaign under him.

Senators and Representatives React

Senators and representatives expressed their views on Duterte’s resignation. Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, described it as a significant loss, emphasizing the importance of Duterte’s political will in directing the education sector.

For Senate Majority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III, the next DepEd chief should have experience and a good track record in the education sector. He suggested appointing someone familiar with the department’s workings and the sector’s challenges.

Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa expressed trust in Duterte’s decision, highlighting her integrity and dedication to public service.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro hoped for the appointment of a DepEd secretary with experience in the field who would prioritize the education sector. GABRIELA Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas viewed Duterte’s resignation as a political move in preparation for the 2025 elections and criticized her tenure at DepEd.

Manila Rep. Joel Chua pointed to the breakdown of the Duterte-Marcos alliance, describing it as exposing a “false façade of unity” maintained for election purposes.

As the country awaits the appointment of a new DepEd Secretary, the focus remains on sustaining the progress made under Duterte’s leadership and ensuring the continuity of educational reforms.

(Source: PNA and Reuters)

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