Marcos Jr. : VP Sara to stay as education chief

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Marcos Jr. : VP Sara to stay as education chief
Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte on November 21, 2023
STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — While he considers himself a “lucky husband” for having such a protective wife, President Marcos said he does not regard First Lady Liza Marcos’ sentiments as a reason to dismiss Vice President Sara Duterte as education chief.

Liza made headlines when she told broadcaster Anthony Taberna in an interview that she now has a negative view of Sara, her husband’s runningmate in the 2022 elections.

The First Lady said she was hurt when she saw the Vice President laughing while her father, former president Rodrigo Duterte, was calling the Chief Executive bangag or high on drugs, in a speech at a rally in Davao City.

Liza said Sara had become “bad shot” or fallen out of favor with her as the Vice President had “crossed the line.”

Asked to react to Liza’s remarks, Marcos, who ignored the allegation that he was a drug addict, said his wife should not be faulted for expressing such a view. But he maintained that the issue would not affect his working relationship with Sara.

“First of all, my first reaction is, ‘what a lucky husband I am’ that I have a wife who is very protective of me. Whenever something bad is said about me, she gets very upset. I guess we cannot blame her,” the President told reporters in Occidental Mindoro.

“It will not affect our working relationship with the Vice President, secretary of
 education. I think that she also, as a wife, understands how the First Lady feels when you have to sit there and listen to these attacks that are being made against your husband,” he added.

In a video statement released yesterday, Sara said Liza’s personal feelings have nothing to do with her mandate as the second highest government official. She added that she prefers to have a private conversation with Marcos on the matter.

The Vice President also cited the need for officials and the public to focus on the country’s problems such as the rising prices of goods, hunger, water and power supply shortages, illegal drugs, crime, terrorism and insurgency.

Marcos said he would discuss the matter with Sara, advising her not to take it personally because she was not the one who maligned him.

“Maybe it is easy to iron out all of these issues,” he added.

When pressed if he would assure the Vice President that she would not be replaced as education secretary, Marcos replied: “She doesn’t need my assurance. She knows that. Any of the Cabinet secretaries will be replaced if they are not doing their job. All the other things…are not part of the discussions.”

Marcos said a Cabinet official who is sick, incompetent or corrupt would be removed from his or her post and none of these characteristics describe Sara.

“I don’t think we need to patch anything up. I think she understands, as I said, as a wife herself, she understands the sentiments of the First Lady. Our conversation will be, precisely that, because you know, I am sure you understand how she feels,” the Chief Executive said.

Explaining Liza’s reaction to the tirades against him, Marcos said his wife is not used to politics, unlike politicians who are already numb to insults.

“She does not come from a political family so perhaps, Liza still has to learn to let some hurtful, heated and combative words pass,” he said.

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