OFFLINE: Contravida Numero Uno
By her recent actions, there is little doubt that Vice President and concurrent Education Secretary Sara Duterte has become the most despised member of the Marcos government.
There was much glee when she was deprived of her confidential intelligence funds by the House of Representatives last week.
This was because she was never able to explain why she needed such funds, which should rightfully be allotted to the intelligence community, especially of the Armed Forces of the Philippines which has the mandate to deeply probe possible or potential threats to national security.
Why an Education secretary would desire an intelligence fund was illogical. Who would she spy on, elementary students?
Maybe, just maybe, some intelligence gathering could be done on college kids enamored with the underground communist movement. But college students fall under the ambit of the Commission on Higher Education, not the Department of Education.
As for her role as VP, Duterte in truth is nothing more than a spare tire whose principal job is to attend ceremonies, cut ribbons, and make nice with the general public.
She should never have been appointed to the Education portfolio in the first place, but it was a concession granted her for agreeing to be the running mate of then candidate Bongbong Marcos last year.
That she had actually eyed the Defense portfolio should now send shivers down our backs. Had Marcos Jr agreed to her wish, the country would have had a pro-China Defense chief, one who would have immediately agreed to the legality of the ridiculous 10 Dash Line that the People’s Republic very recently foisted on the world.
That 10 Dash Line even exceeded the reach of the Nine Dash Line, which China uses as an excuse to claim large parts of Philippine territory, specifically its exclusive economic zone.
Last week was Teachers’ Day, and guess which Education secretary did not receive any congratulatory messages from any teachers’ organization.
This is because the country’s teachers are painfully aware that Duterte has nothing in her background to indicate that she could be an effective executive of the largest government bureaucracy of all. She does not even have any teaching experience. None whatsoever.
Her lack of credentials became obvious during the Education department’s budget hearings last month, when she was unable to answer any question from the Commission on Appointments. Instead, she passed on the responsibility to her undersecretaries and assistant secretaries.
When it became clear to her that her beloved confidential intelligence funds would be removed from her budget, both as VP and Education sec, Duterte lashed out at any who would dare question her use of the fund.
Incidentally, she had been given an intelligence fund by Malacanang last year, and the public was scandalized when she spent a humungous sum in a short time. As in some P11 million per day in a period of less than two weeks.
The funds that she received came from the Office of the President, which should have known better. The fund transfer remains under question as being unconstitutional, and therefore illegal.
But Duterte had already spent it and no one may question where the money went, not even the Commission on Audit.
As many wags said over social media, she could have placed the entire sum in a foreign bank account and no one would have been any wiser.
What was extremely grating is Duterte’s attitude towards the people’s money AKA taxes.
Most recently, it was also revealed that Duterte had also helped herself to the bottomless well that is the people’s taxes even as Davao City mayor. During her stint as Davao’s chief executive, she had multi-millions in confidential funds, and no one knew about it until now.
So not only does the country have a do-nothing VP and Education secretary, but she is said to be eyeing the highest post in the land, the Philippine presidency.
We should be afraid. We should all be very afraid.
There has been loose talk that Duterte may even move to assume the presidency long before the next scheduled presidential elections
Take that to mean what it means.
Fortunately, her ambitions have been nipped in the bud, at least for now.
Losing those precious, audit-free funds may be because her potential rival for the presidency five years down the road decided it was the right thing to do.
He may deny it, but Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez has such a firm grip on the House of Representatives that no big decision is made without his implied approval.
During her dad’s time as president, Sara Duterte had already flexed her political muscle when she was able to unseat the then Speaker, and have installed in his place Duterte’s main ally, former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
She can do no such thing now, as the current Speaker only happens to be the first cousin of the president.
Then again, Sara no H is not about to surrender her dream of becoming president without a fight.
She has now been using the same troll army that helped her and Marcos “win” last year’s elections. It’s most noticeable in social media, where all sorts of posts have been appearing lately, all in support of Duterte.
Their message is the same. Sara Duterte will be the next president of the Philippines.
Lest we forget, many moons ago the VP launched a classless verbal attack on some unnamed personalities in Congress, referring to them or him as “tambaloslos.”
This is a Visayan word that refers to a mythical beast with a large mouth with fangs and a huge penis.
No one was exactly sure who she was attacking, but in hindsight it now seems clear that it was Speaker Romualdez that she was pointing to.
This early, then, the battle lines are being drawn. As universally reviled that she has become, Sara Duterte still dreams of being president and the confidential funds that come with the office. By the time she makes it to the Palace, those funds will easily be in the billions of pesos.
She knows she can win the same way she and Marcos Jr won, through the most massive cheating imaginable. She has the machinery for it, so God help the Philippines if it has yet another six years of a corrupt and incompetent leader. Three consecutive terms of such vile leaders may be more than the country can stand.