The Second Most Powerful Filipino

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“The (Bongbong-Sara) team-up produced an unprecedented mandate unequalled in recent Philippine history”

When Sara Duterte-Carpio took her oath of office as vice president of the Philippines on June 19 in her native Davao City, she officially became the second most powerful Filipino.

Duterte, better known as Inday Sara, 44, also is now the most powerful woman in the country, being only a heartbeat away from the presidency held by her standard bearer Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., 64.

Sara is the daughter of outgoing President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Marcos Jr is the only son and namesake of the longest serving president of the Philippines, Ferdinand Edralin Marcos Sr.

Sara and Bongbong start their six-year term at noon of June 30, 2022. Sara ensured her and Marcos’s landslide victory by agreeing to be the latter’s running mate and defying the wishes of her father that she succeed him this year to the highest office in the land.

The team-up produced an unprecedented mandate unequalled in recent Philippine history. Marcos won with 31.6 million votes and Duterte won with 32.2 million votes.

The tandem won in 80 percent of the archipelago, in 64 of the 80 major provinces, in 25 of the 27 largest cities, and in 15 of the 17 administrative regions.

The May 9 victory restored power to the Marcoses 36 years and three months after their patriarch, Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, was ousted by a Church and CIA-backed four-day civilian-military uprising on Feb. 22-25, 1986, ending the Philippines’ longest presidency which lasted 20 years.

Sara is the third woman to hold the position of vice president, after Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 1998-2001, and Leni Robredo, 2016-2022.

VP Arroyo ousted then President Joseph Estrada in 2001 in a civilian-military coup and served for nine years as president, the second longest after the 20 years of Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, Dec. 30, 1965-Feb. 25, 1986, himself the first victim of a civilian-military uprising.

VP Leni lost her bid for president on May 9, 2022. She was roundly beaten by former Senator Bongbong Marcos Jr.. Leni got only 28 percent of the votes cast for president. Marcos’s 31.6 million was 59 percent of the total votes cast for president.

Sara, the two-term mayor of Davao City and one of the most charismatic local government officials, received 32.6 million votes, 61.58 percent of the votes cast for vice president.

After her oath-taking, Sara, resplendent in her green Filipiniana gown, delivered an 11.4-minute speech inspired, said Rep. Joey Salceda, an adviser, by Saint Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologia, a theological compendium of the Catholic Church that deals on God, Man and his purpose, and the Sacraments.

“We should commit to heart the priorities of God, country and family,” she said before an enthusiastic crowd of 20,000 by police estimates.

God, she explained, “will help our fellowmen overcome the difficulties they face in their lives, to change lives, to save lives.”

Noting that her oath-taking took place on the national hero’s birthday, Sara aid “Rizal taught us that selflessness and sacrifice could change our country’s fate and shape our children’s future.”

Speaking in Pilipino, Sara said “together we can rise every day fired by the promise in our hearts that we love and will continue to love our Philippines while we are alive.”

She added, in English, “let us show our love for our country by taking care of our families and communities despite the unending challenges that come our way.”

Sara declared: “We can never go wrong if we are a people dedicated to honoring the will of God, to serving our country and our fellowmen, and protecting the integrity of our families and the future of our children.”

Perhaps because of a life-long advocacy for the welfare of the young, Sara will concurrently serve as secretary of the Department of Education.

Education was cornerstone program of Sara in two terms as the youngest mayor and first woman mayor of Davao City, 2010-2013 and 2016-2019. She wanted to run for a third term in 2022 but fate – or God – she thinks intervened.

In Davao, then Mayor Sara partnered with the Israeli Embassy to train the city’s public school teachers to improve the teaching of STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Under her, Davao is one of the first major cities to institutionalize Alternative Learning System.

The city is also building a new campus of the University of Southeastern Philippines and a new city college.

DepEd mission

At DepEd, Secretary Sara is reviewing why the government’s ambitious K-12 program (that added two years to high school education) has failed quality high school graduates. Filipino teenagers are the worst performing in the world in reading comprehension, math and science.

Like the elder Duterte, Sara trained as a lawyer before entering politics in 2007 when she was voted in as her father’s vice mayor.

A brother, Sebastian Duterte, succeeds Sara as Davao mayor. Another brother, Paolo Duterte, will serve as a congressman, a post once held by Rodrigo Duterte who served a total 23 years as Davao city hizzoner.

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Tony Lopez
  • Tony Lopez