Political divorce

DEMAND AND SUPPLY - Boo Chanco - The Philippine Star

The magic is gone, if it ever existed. It was a marriage of convenience. They both had their own agendas, so a break-up was inevitable.

Duterte, the father, didn’t like BBM from the start. He said as much publicly and just kept quiet when the UniTeam was announced. They had to win the election first.

The honeymoon period had not begun in earnest when motives started to emerge. Sara wanted to be Secretary of National Defense. That was too obvious. BBM may be Mr. Nice Guy but he isn’t stupid. It is too easy to see what Sara had in mind.

Sara instead got the education portfolio, a prestigious cabinet position with the biggest budget, but with the biggest headaches too. Without a background in education, she got an assignment where she is destined to fail and kill her political ambitions for good.

Sara took the position but couldn’t get her mind off DND. So, she started to push for ROTC, probably as her way of justifying close relations with the DND brass. ROTC was obviously not a priority response to what ails the country’s educational system. International tests show DepEd was producing pupils who ranked among the lowest of their peers in other countries. Getting the Filipino schoolchildren to learn how to count, how to read and understand the basics of science are top priorities.

Sara then launched the so-called Makabayan curriculum. The Makabayan is supposed to “develop socio-cultural and politico-economic literacy, emphasizing the development of a sense of citizenship in the learner, defined as a healthy personal and national self-concept and a constructive for healthy patriotism.”

This is how to get the next generations brainwashed with the Dutertes’ idea of having the youth completely submissive to authorities, meaning them. And to give it some more bite, she asked for confidential funds that would be used to purge the youth of elements who would dare to think and act contrary to their concept of political nirvana, using red tagging methods.

Sara got P125 million in confidential funds right after the elections and she spent it all in 19 days. Luckily, the honeymoon for the UniTeam was over by the time she asked for more. For the new budget, Sara didn’t get the confidential funds she wanted. She will have to live with what the DepEd budget provides, subject to the usual COA audits.

That’s probably why the VP’s enthusiasm with DepEd seems lukewarm. She missed many public hearings where the Secretary of Education must be heard, especially in the light of our catastrophic international test results. And when she was present, she asked her subordinates to respond to questions she had no idea how to answer.

When Congress denied her request for confidential funds, it was her father who reacted strongly. Unprintable remarks were said about BBM. A Davao rally in the guise of a prayer meeting marked what was clearly a public break between the two families. A former speaker re-aligned with Duterte and called on the armed forces to withdraw their support for BBM. VP Sara was in this rally, seen enjoying her father trashing BBM. The First Lady saw this as a political declaration of war.

But like many failed marriages, the UniTeam is still making pretenses that all is well. BBM said he still trusted VP Sara even after the First Lady made it clear that she will not be part of the charade.

In more civilized set-ups, with all that has happened and all that had been said from both camps, VP Sara should have the decency to publicly resign her DepEd portfolio. That will also free her to do what she really wants to do, to start campaigning and undermining the BBM administration which the Duterte minions are already doing.

Sara’s resignation would be good for the country too because BBM can then get a competent educator to run DepEd. We urgently have to redeem our international reputation as a nation whose next generations are dunces who have trouble reading and counting.

But things are moving fast. The justice department out of nowhere announced they are studying options on how to respond to the International Criminal Court. They left open, however slightly, the possibility of cooperation because the Supreme Court said it is our international obligation.

Feeling personally threatened, Sen. Bato dela Rosa, a loyal Duterte follower, launched his own Senate investigation that is trying very hard to link BBM to a supposed 2012 intelligence report on drug users. Even after Bato’s own witness bombed out in the hearing, he was not willing to end the zarzuela.

Beyond a statement about the lack of credibility of Bato’s witness, BBM has maintained a stiff upper lip on the issue. This is a pressure point of the Dutertes and they are using it to blackmail BBM from working with the ICC.

LGU officials allied with Duterte, including the Cebu City mayor, have been suspended for various reasons. The former House Speaker who called on the military to withdraw support for BBM is facing an ethics probe at the House. Duterte, the father, has been holding rallies that attack BBM. The lines are drawn for the elections next year.

Now there is a possibility the Marcos-Romualdez political machinery is ready to work with the opposition Liberal Party, possibly having a unified ticket for next year’s elections. Not a bad idea to make sure the China-loving Dutertes get their comeuppance. With too many suspicious things happening on the China front, we can’t afford to have the Dutertes using public offices to help China against our national interests.

New foreign investors shouldn’t worry. This is part of the entertainment package they signed up for. Sit back and enjoy the show.

Boo Chanco’s email address is [email protected], Follow him on X @boochanco

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