VP Sara’s perfect storm
Vice President Sara Duterte can’t seem to do anything right. She has gotten herself embroiled in a succession of controversies, just a little more than a year after becoming a national official.
As secretary of the Department of Education, she ordered the removal of all materials from classroom walls, including visual learning aids, as schools were set to open last August. Her directive drew widespread condemnation, even among teachers who were aghast at the indiscriminate and abrupt nature of the order. It didn’t help that the directive was issued with no prior consultations with teachers and students, without research support, and that it came from an education secretary with zero experience as educator.
As the country’s vice president, she spent a whopping P125 million in confidential funds in just 11 days in December 2022. It didn’t help that she gained access to such funds even if her office had no such allocation in its budget last year. It also didn’t help that her profligacy was juxtaposed against her predecessor, Leni Robredo, who had not a single centavo of confidential funds in her six years in office.
As the country’s vice president and education secretary, Sara sought to have a total of P650 million in confidential funds in the 2024 national budget. It didn’t help that she was seeking such funds far larger than the allocations for some of our national security agencies whose principal jobs are real intelligence gathering.
As mayor of Davao City, she had confidential funds of about P144 million in 2016, P293 million in 2017, P420 million in 2018, and P460 million each year from 2019 to 2022, or a total of P2.6 billion from 2016 to 2022, according to the Commission on Audit. It didn’t help that Sara’s Davao City was being compared with richer cities like Makati City and Quezon City, which had far smaller confidential fund allocations for the same period.
These controversies are happening at the worst possible time for VP Sara, and the best possible time for her aspiring rivals and hardened detractors. It is a time when the people are most allergic to corruption because of the current economic difficulties. With people suffering from really high food prices, these exposés on VP Sara’s profligacy with public funds—which are not subject to accounting and which are most prone to corruption—rubs salt into the wound.
At a time when China’s bully behavior in the West Philippine Sea is the national security issue that riles up people, VP Sara’s gobbledygook on her need to pour humongous funds to supposedly monitor communist recruitment among elementary and high school students, equates to a silly joke.
VP Sara is caught in a perfect storm of scandals that has caused her approval rating to nose-dive. The inertia and volume of biting commentaries, wicked jokes, sarcastic videos, satirical photos, and acerbic memes against her are tremendous. And it has reached a stage where any statement or action she makes, will be fodder for more memes, jokes, and satire.
For sure, apart from hardened Duterte detractors, politicians who aim to compete with her in 2028, have joined the bandwagon. We shouldn’t also be surprised if forces loyal to the Marcoses are surreptitiously fanning the flames as a means to divert people’s anger on economic difficulties, and heap it all on VP Sara. It’s also not far-fetched that VP Sara is being trounced to make way for the chosen successor in 2028 of forces close to the Marcos side of the Uniteam alliance.
Before all these controversies, every politician genuflected before VP Sara, venerating her with blind obeisance. This was due to the perception that, for her, it’s a walk in the park on the way to the presidency in 2028. She has been dragged down from her pedestal, however, with the storm of controversies. And her image has sustained further damage because she has shown herself to be inarticulate, shallow, and onion-skinned during the congressional hearings on the budget and in her retorts to criticisms. How will she survive probing questions during press conferences, and heated arguments during election debates?
We’re now starting to see VP Sara’s allies fighting back, questioning the confidential and intelligence funds of the speaker of the House of Representatives and the President himself, which both supposedly also run into billions. We’re starting to hear rumblings among legislators about alleged corruption being monopolized by those close to the powers-that-be. For sure, there will be more of this tit for tat.
Daggers are drawn, and swords have been unsheathed. Despite the smiles and niceties displayed in public, a war is starting to rage among the political gods aspiring for supremacy in 2028.
Opponents of the current administration, with the Makabayan bloc in the lead, ignited these current controversies. Now they can sit back and watch bloated egos, inflated ambitions, and avarice for wealth and power, to do the rest of job.
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