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VP Sara won’t quit Cabinet yet, to ‘squeeze’ DepEd perks for 2028 plans

Vice President Sara Duterte is not heeding calls for her to leave the Marcos Cabinet as Education secretary because she can still take advantage of the position for her political plans, according to former senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

“For all intents and purposes, sinasakyan na lang nila (they are riding on) whatever political juice they can squeeze out of the position… 2028 is still four years away kaya kailangan nila ng mga ganyang (that’s why she still needs such) platform pa na pwede nilang magamit (that they can use) for their political interest,” Trillanes said in VERA Files’ Tres from Tress podcast with senior editor Tress Martelino-Reyes on May 31.

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Tres From Tress Show Live Episode: Anyare sa opposition?

Duterte has declared that she would run for public office again, but is vague on what position she would go for. As vice president, she is entitled to another six-year term after her current term ends in 2028.

Since Duterte began her stint as Education secretary two years ago, the agency’s budget has been under scrutiny for its substantial allocation of confidential funds, which she justified as necessary for national security.

In 2023, DepEd received a total of P150 million in confidential funds despite the Senate’s attempt to realign the budget. The following year, the department once again requested P650 million in confidential funds but later dropped the proposal after receiving backlash.

The vice president has been frequently traveling to the provinces, attending activities and promoting projects and programs of the DepEd.

There have been persistent calls for the vice president to give up her Cabinet post out of delicadeza in view of the continuing verbal attacks by her father, former president Rodrigo Duterte, and brother, Davao City Mayor Sebastian Duterte, on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Sebastian asked Marcos in January to step down, saying the president is “lazy and lacks compassion.” At a “prayer rally” in Davao City, the mayor said: “Mr. President, if you do not have love or have no aspirations for your country, resign.”

In April, Manila Rep. Joel Chua said the vice president should show some “decency” by giving up her Cabinet position as DepEd chief for keeping mum on her family’s dirty allegations thrown relentlessly at Marcos.

“Her family unleashed a barrage of insults and attacks directly to the president and yet she does nothing and is still enjoying the perks of being part of the official family,” Chua pointed out.

Others sought Duterte’s resignation from the DepEd at the height of the controversy arising from the P125 million from the Office of the President’s contingent fund which she disbursed in the last 11 days of 2022, without a detailed accounting of how the whopping amount was used.

Some have also pointed to her supposed lackluster performance as DepEd chief. However, the Tugon ng Masa survey by OCTA research in March showed DepEd ranked first among government institutions in terms of trust and performance, with ratings of 82% and 84%, respectively.

Duterte has been mum on calls for her head while Marcos said in April that he does not see any reason to replace the DepEd chief after First Lady Liza Marcos publicly aired her sentiments against the vice president, saying, “Bad shot na sa akin ‘yan.”

Trillanes, who has revealed he is eyeing a local government post in the 2025 midterm election, said: “‘Yan po sila VP Sara ay naghihintay po sila ng political timing kung kailan sila bibitaw kasi alam nilang (VP Sara’s camp is just waiting for political timing to leave the administration because they know) it would be look bad for President Marcos to kick her out [as Education secretary],” he explained.

In the same Tres from Tress episode, the former senator said the Dutertes’ criticisms of the Marcos administration make them a de facto opposition, but ruled out a merger with what he called the “independent” opposition that performs the “traditional” role of providing checks and balances in the government.

He noted the wide, contradicting principles between the two groups which can both present themselves as alternative choices to the Marcos administration.

Kung tutulungan at magsasanib-pwersa para makabalik sa pwesto ang mga ‘yan ay lalong ikakasama ng demokrasya,” he explained.