By Beting Laygo Dolor, Manila Editor
MANILA – Their claims to the contrary notwithstanding, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and Vice President Sara Duterte are no longer as united as they say they are.
Marcos has been widely praised for extending the hand of friendship even to parties considered as enemies of the state, as what happened last month when he granted amnesty to current and former members of such groups as the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) – the umbrella organization of the underground communist movement.
Beyond the amnesty, the president even agreed to the resumption of peace talks with the Left.
Duterte, on the other hand, has adopted the same fierce anti-communist stand of her father, former president Rodrigo Duterte, under whose term the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) was created.
It was during the fifth anniversary of the founding of NTF-ELCAC that the vice president – a senior official of the task force — told the president that he should review the agreements, finalized just last month.
It was not the first time that Duterte contradicted the Marcos administration. Also last month, she said the country should never consider rejoining the International Criminal Court (ICC).
While Marcos had earlier taken the same stance, he more recently said he would consider rejoining the world court, which former president Duterte had renounced after the ICC said it would investigate the bloody war on drugs of the latter’s regime.
With a few exceptions, Marcos announced amnesty for crimes committed by such groups as the Moro National Liberation Front, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, and the NDFP.
Immediately after the amnesty was announced, the government represented by Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity Carlito Galvez Jr and the NDFP signed a joint communique in Oslo, Norway agreeing to “a principled and peaceful resolution” in ending armed conflict.
VP Duterte strongly disagreed. Speaking in the vernacular, she said granting amnesty was wrong as “we’ve already won, the community is fighting.”
She referred to the Oslo communique as “an agreement with the devil.”
Duterte added that peace and reconciliation could be attained “without capitulating to the enemies.”
Also last month, Duterte said she was against the decision of Marcos to consider the Philippines’ possible return to the ICC.
Former senator Leila de Lima – named this week as spokesperson of the opposition Liberal Party – urged the vice president to step down as education secretary after the series of disagreements with the president.
“Peace talks is not within the core competence of her portfolio as DepEd sec,” De Lima posted on X (formerly known as Twitter).
As part of the president’s official family, she can only criticize the president’s actions as vice president, but not as a member of the Cabinet, according to De Lima.
The rift between the VP and the chief executive could be traced to the House of Representatives stripping Duterte of the P650 million confidential funds under the proposed 2024 budget.
The House is led by Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, first cousin of the president.
The VP had earlier referred to certain House leaders as “tambaloslos,” a highly insulting description as it refers to a monster with a big mouth and a huge penis. She is widely believed to have referred to the Speaker.
The VP’s father fanned the fire further when he referred to the House of being one of the most corrupt government entities.