Sara quits Marcos Cabinet

Edith Regalado, Neil Jayson Servallos - The Philippine Star
Sara quits Marcos Cabinet
Vice President sara duterte holds a press conference announcing her resignation as department of education secretary and vice chairperson of the National task Force to end local Communist armed Conflict at the deped central office in Pasig City yesterday.

MANILA, Philippines — After months of souring relations between political families whose team-up scored a landslide victory in 2022, Vice President Sara Duterte resigned from her post as secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd) and vice chairperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) yesterday.

A statement issued by the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) confirmed that “as of 2:21 p.m. today, 19 June 2024, Vice President Sara Z. Duterte, went to Malacañang and tendered her resignation as Member of the Cabinet, Secretary of the Department of Education and Vice Chairperson of the NTF-ELCAC, effective 19 July 2024.

“She declined to give a reason why. She will continue to serve as Vice President. We thank her for her service.”

At a press briefing yesterday afternoon at the DepEd complex in Pasig, Duterte announced her resignation as education secretary.

“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,” Duterte told reporters.

“I have given my 30-day notice to ensure the proper and orderly transition for the benefit of the next secretary,” she added.

In her resignation letter addressed to President Marcos, she said she had already prepared a transition plan for all the nine strands of the DepEd, as well as for posts chaired by DepEd and the Southeast Asia Ministers of Education Organization. Duterte is SEAMEO Council president.

“I shall remain of service to the country through the various programs, activities and projects of the Office of the Vice President. I thank you for the opportunity to have served as a member of your Cabinet,” she added.

Amid criticisms and apparently soured relations between their families, Duterte said her resignation should not be construed as weakness.

“This is brought by true concern for our teachers and the Filipino youth. While I will not be heading the DepEd, I will continue to push for the quality of education that Filipinos deserve,” she said.

“While I will no longer be the secretary of education, I will remain a mother who looks after and would stand up for the welfare of all teachers and students in the Philippines,” she added.

Duterte declined to answer questions about details of her resignation and the reason she decided to leave her posts within the Marcos Cabinet.

Questions about whether Duterte would still be aligned with the Marcos administration now swirl as the President looks for her replacement.

Cracks in UniTeam?

Speculations that there were cracks in the UniTeam mounted when former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, an ally of Sara, was demoted from House senior deputy speaker to deputy speaker. Sara resigned from the Romualdez-led Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats party after Arroyo’s demotion.

Rumors of a rift among UniTeam members intensified after the House of Representatives, dominated by Marcos’ allies, realigned the combined P650-million confidential funds of the Office of the Vice President and DepEd to agencies securing the West Philippine Sea.

The House lawmakers’ decision to strip the agencies led by Sara of intelligence funds angered her father, former president Rodrigo Duterte, who labeled the legislative chamber as the “most rotten” institution and accused Speaker Martin Romualdez of “swallowing” discretionary funds.

House members denied the accusation and approved a resolution affirming the chamber’s honor and integrity. Two Duterte allies who did not sign the resolution – Arroyo and Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab – lost their posts as deputy speakers.

Things turned personal last January when Duterte claimed in an expletive-laden speech in Davao that Marcos is a drug addict, an allegation that the President just laughed off.

Duterte also warned Marcos that the attempt of some administration allies to effect Charter change through a people’s initiative signature campaign could lead to his ouster, similar to the fate of the President’s late father and namesake in 1986. Marcos responded by linking Duterte’s tirades to his use of the highly addictive drug fentanyl.

Despite the word war, Marcos claimed that the UniTeam was still intact and “vibrant.”

In April, the political landscape took a surprising turn when First Lady Liza Marcos disclosed that she has come to view Sara negatively because the Vice President laughed when her father was calling Marcos “bangag” or high on drugs during a rally in Davao City. Sara responded by saying that Liza’s personal feelings had nothing to do with her functions in the government.

Marcos had also defended Sara from critics calling for her removal from the Cabinet, saying the issue did not affect his working relations with his runningmate in the 2022 elections.

Sara made headlines this month when she said that the UniTeam had already served its purpose.

“The UniTeam was a tandem during the 2022 elections. The elections are over, we won and we are grateful to those who supported us,” she said during the 126th Independence Day celebration in Davao City last June 12.

“We are not candidates anymore,” she added.


While Marcos repeatedly praised Sara’s performance as a member of the Cabinet, they did not agree on some issues.

When the Marcos administration and the National Democratic Front, which negotiates on behalf of communist rebels, agreed to seek a “principled and peaceful” resolution to the conflict, Sara said history has proven that the insurgents are not sincere in pursuing peace. She even called the government’s joint statement with the NDF in Oslo as an “agreement with the devil.”

Sara has also drawn flak for her supposed silence on China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea. Marcos, who has issued strong statements against China’s incursions in the strategic sea lane, defended Sara from her critics, saying discussing the dispute is not part of her mandate.

Marcos also tweaked DepEd’s proposals for the changing of the school calendar. Under the first option, there will be 182 school days, including 15 in-person Saturday classes.

The second option will have 167 school days and no Saturday onsite classes. Marcos said a 167-day school calendar would be “too short” while holding Saturday classes would entail more resources and “jeopardize” the well-being of students.

He then asked the DepEd to adjust the end of the school year from March 31 to April 15, 2025  so students could finish the 182 class days without having to go to school on Saturday.

Marcos and Sara were last seen together in public during the Philippine National Police Academy graduation in Cavite last April. Their last known closed door meeting took place on May 21 in Malacañang, where they tackled proposals to amend the school calendar. – Alexis Romero

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