VP Sara resigns from Lakas-CMD President Marcos: She has too much work to do

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
VP Sara resigns from Lakas-CMD President Marcos: She has too much work to do
Image from her Facebook page shows Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte at the Aguado Residence in San Miguel, Manila. Duterte served as Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats chairperson after she joined the party in 2021.
Official Facebook Page of Inday Sara Duterte

MANILA, Philippines — Following a shakeup that saw her close ally, former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, lose a senior House leadership position, Vice President Sara Duterte yesterday resigned from the ruling Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD),  lamenting political “toxicity” and “powerplay.”

Duterte served as Lakas-CMD chair after she joined the party in 2021. It was  the vehicle for her vice presidential bid last year.

In a statement, she declared: “I am here today because of the trust of the Filipino people in me to lead and serve them and the country, and this
cannot be poisoned by political toxicity or undermined by execrable political powerplay.”

In Ilocos Norte, President Marcos said he believed Duterte quit the party because she has too much work, as education secretary and co-vice chair of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.

“You know that VP Inday Sara is very plain spoken. She really means what she says. Sha has too much work to do that she cannot be involved in any – that she cannot allow herself to be distracted. That’s the way I read it,” Marcos said partly in Filipino in an interview.

Duterte, in her statement, said, “I am grateful to all the party members for the support that also once demonstrated that unity is possible to advance our shared dreams for our fellow Filipinos and our beloved country.”

“Nothing is more important to me than being able to meaningfully serve our fellow Filipinos and the Philippines – with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. leading the way. Trust that my word, my commitment will be immutable,” she added.

Duterte urged leaders to focus on work and leave a legacy of a strong and stable Philippines. Duterte is also the education secretary.

Duterte is a close ally of Arroyo, a Lakas-CMD stalwart who also served in key party positions, including as its president emeritus.

In an interview in Ilocos Norte yesterday, President Marcos said he understands Duterte’s decision to resign from Lakas-CMD, as she may have been overwhelmed by work pressure – being the country’s second highest official and education secretary.

Duterte is also co-vice chair of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

“You know that VP Inday Sara is very plain-spoken. She really means what she says. She has too much work to do that she cannot be involved in any – that she cannot allow herself to be distracted. That’s the way I read it,” Marcos said partly in Filipino.

“It’s true because if you look at it, she really has a lot of work to do and she cannot – to be involved in whatever it is that is going on – she has to concentrate on her job as Secretary for the DepEd and now NTF-ELCAC,” Marcos said.

Last Wednesday, the former president was replaced as senior House deputy speaker by fellow Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales, supposedly to “unburden” her of the heavy load required of the position.

While Arroyo is still one of the House’s nine deputy speakers, the title swap was viewed as a demotion as the position of senior House deputy speaker was supposedly specifically created for her.

The former president initially issued a terse response – “It’s the prerogative of the House” – before releasing a lengthy statement on the matter Thursday night.

Speaker Martin Romualdez is currently the president of Lakas-CMD.

Arroyo and Duterte are known political allies. In 2018, it was reported that Duterte – then presidential daughter and mayor of Davao City – played a key role in the removal of then House speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, who was replaced by Arroyo.

Arroyo, meanwhile, was believed to be among those who brokered the alliance between Duterte and Marcos for the 2022 elections.

Initially prodded to run for president, Duterte filed her certificate of candidacy to run for third term as Davao City mayor.

She later left the local political party she founded, Hugpong ng Pagbabago, and joined Lakas-CMD as its chair. She rejoined HNP after finding out that there was no conflict with her joining the national party.

In November 2021, she announced her decision to run for vice president and filed as a substitute candidate for Lakas-CMD, which initially fielded what many believed were “placeholder” candidates.

Lakas-CMD forged an alliance with Partido ng Federal ng Pilipinas, which fielded Marcos for president.

Their UniTeam alliance won by a landslide, with Duterte securing more votes than Marcos, 32.2 million and 31.6 million, respectively.

Unlike in previous administrations, Marcos’ political party does not occupy the most number of seats at the House of Representatives, as it was Lakas-CMD – headed by his cousin Romualdez – that emerged as the ruling party.

Both seen as allies of the President, Arroyo and Romualdez often accompany him on his foreign trips.

Marcos at one point described the former president as his “secret weapon.”

Lakas respects Sara decision

In a statement, Lakas-CMD thanked Duterte for the services she rendered for the party and for helping “build a Unity Team aimed at bringing meaningful change to the Philippine society.”

“As we respect her decision, we understand her reason for leaving the political party,” said Lakas-CMD secretary general and Agusan del Norte Rep. Joboy Aquino.

He said the party supports Duterte’s “call for all political leaders to unite in support of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and for all of us to work for the success of this administration for the benefit of our people.”

“We continue to believe in our shared vision that only a country united can lift the Filipino people out of poverty and ensure a better future for generations to come,” he maintained.

But for Liberal Party president and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Arroyo’s demotion and Duterte’s resignation from Lakas-CMD are “obviously related” to positioning for the 2028 presidential polls.

“The positioning and contest for the 2028 presidential elections have begun even before the 2025 midterm elections,” Lagman said.

“It would be recalled that Arroyo and Duterte were the principal conspirators in the ouster of then speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and the ascendancy of Arroyo as speaker in 2018,” he said.

“The powerplay and intramurals in Lakas may result in further resignations by Arroyo and Duterte loyalists,” he pointed out.

He said the latest political developments would have repercussions in the revamp of the Marcos Cabinet.

“The Liberal Party, as the principal opposition party, will be keenly watchful of further developments as they unfold,” he added.

The Makabayan bloc said Duterte’s resignation from Lakas is an indication that the Marcos administration’s UniTeam is falling apart.

“This reminds me of what happened in 2018 when there was what we call ‘coup d’etat’ in the House leadership,” House Deputy Minority Leader and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro said at a press conference. “Our question now is, has the UniTeam fallen part or is it falling apart?”

Castro was referring to the time Arroyo took her oath as speaker replacing Alvarez shortly after then president Rodrigo Duterte delivered his State of the Nation Address.

The lawmaker also warned Marcos that the loyalty of the military is with the Dutertes, especially since he appointed the Vice President as vice-co chair of the NTF-ELCAC.

“Marcos Jr. should be careful with things like these. He should not let his guard down with the Dutertes … We all know where the military’s loyalty lies and this could be a strategic position that he should closely monitor,” she added.

Gabriela Women’s party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas said there are already “indicators” that UniTeam is breaking up.

She said while the President had made a pronouncement regarding “abuses” in Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign, Arroyo filed a resolution justifying it.

“It does not sit well with the current administration,” she added.

Brosas also cited the Electric Power Industry Reform Act enacted during the Arroyo administration, which Marcos wants amended.

For his part, Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel said an alliance not based on “principles and platforms” is bound to disintegrate.

“An alliance like that will be fragile and will not last for a long time. It is better to fight for what is beneficial for the people and not for (one’s) own vested interest,” he added.  — Helen Flores, Sheila Crisostomo, Edith Regalado

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