‘We Don’t Want Sara Impeached’; Cracks In UniTeam Denied
President Marcos, Speaker Martin Romualdez and Vice President Sara Duterte all maintain that everything’s OK with the UniTeam despite observations that there are cracks in the alliance.
HONOLULU – President Marcos stood by Vice President Sara Duterte on Monday, Nov. 20, saying she does not deserve to be impeached and that he only has positive things to say about her work.
While claiming that it is not unusual to hear about efforts to oust a leader, Marcos said he is closely watching the issue because he is against impeaching the Vice President, who was his running mate in the 2022 elections.
“Binabantayan namin nang mabuti (We are monitoring it closely) because we don’t want her to be impeached,” Marcos told reporters here. “She does not deserve to be impeached so we will make sure that this is something we will pay very close attention to.”
“Lahat naman kami mayroong ganyan eh (All of us have been through this). So, I don’t think it’s particularly unusual, I don’t think it’s particularly worrisome,” he added.
“There will always be an element that would want to change the result of an election,” he said.
He described his relationship with the Vice President, who is also the education secretary, as “excellent.”
“On a professional level, nothing but good things to say about the work she has done in the Department of Education,” the President said.
Earlier, Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro said there were talks about impeaching Duterte at the House of Representatives but leaders of the chamber denied this. Rumors about the supposed efforts to impeach Duterte came as the Vice President is facing controversy over her request for intelligence funds in the 2024 national budget.
The House of Representatives, dominated by the allies of Marcos, has realigned the combined P650-million confidential funds of the Office of the Vice President and Department of Education to security agencies dealing with the threats in the West Philippine Sea.
The decision did not sit well with Duterte’s father, former president Rodrigo Duterte, who alleged that Speaker Martin Romualdez is “swallowing” discretionary funds.
The former president also called the House the “most rotten” institution. Responding to the elder Duterte’s tirades, the House passed a resolution affirming its honor and integrity.
Two Duterte allies who did not sign the resolution – former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Davao City Rep. Isidro Ungab – lost their posts as House deputy speaker.
Marcos also disputed claims that there are already cracks in the UniTeam alliance that carried him and Duterte during the elections.
“I don’t think so. Mas tumitibay nga eh (It is even becoming stronger),” he said.
Marcos claimed the people who are talking about impeachment are the same ones saying the UniTeam is no longer intact.
Rumors that there is a rift within the coalition have been swirling around even before the controversy over the Vice President’s intelligence funds erupted.
Arroyo was demoted from senior deputy speaker to deputy speaker for allegedly plotting the ouster of Romualdez, a cousin of Marcos. The former president denied seeking Romualdez’s ouster and clarified that she is no longer interested in leading the House.
Duterte resigned from Lakas-CMD, the party of Romualdez and part of the UniTeam alliance, after Arroyo’s demotion.
Castro suspects that the talks about efforts to impeach Duterte were intended to divert attention from the issue on confidential funds plaguing the Vice President.
Speaker: Relations with Sara ‘very good’
Romualdez described as “very good” his relationship with the Vice President in the wake of speculations that the administration’s UniTeam coalition already has cracks.
“Very good,” Romualdez told reporters in San Francisco last Saturday, Nov. 18.
He also denied that there is an effort to impeach her in the House of Representatives.
“I am not aware of any. Nothing filed. No news on that,” Romualdez said.
Asked where Castro may have gotten her information about the supposed attempt to impeach Duterte, Romualdez replied: “I don’t know your sources. There is nothing in the offing, nothing in general.”
The Vice President, for her part, says she still enjoys Marcos’ trust amid reports that cracks have formed within the UniTeam coalition, the political ticket that launched the pair to a landslide victory in last year’s elections.
“We’re OK. I believe that I still have the trust of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.,” Duterte said in a chance interview with reporters on the sidelines of the World Children’s Day celebration at the Quezon City Memorial Circle on Sunday, Nov. 19.
Additionally, the Vice President said her office was conducting due diligence on rumors that the House was allegedly plotting an impeachment complaint against her.
“We will release a comment at the appropriate time,” she added.
Asked about her political aspirations, Duterte said she had no intentions to run for President in the 2028 elections.
“I never really aspired to run for vice president, much more for president. I’ve said that before,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has reassured the public of its professionalism amidst rumors of uneasiness among the ranks of military and police personnel spawned supposedly by developments on the political front.
“The AFP is a professional organization. Our loyalty is to the Flag and Constitution,” AFP public affairs office chief Col. Xerxes Trinidad told The Philippine STAR on Sunday, in reaction to former president Duterte’s insinuations that recent political developments have stirred unrest in the military and the Philippine National Police.
The former president cited in particular what he called the emerging alliance between Romualdez and Castro that he claimed is causing uneasiness among the ranks of uniformed personnel.
“Watch the military and the police closely. You who are conniving in Congress. I am not scaring you, but watch the military and the police closely,” he said in his “Gikan sa Masa Para sa Masa” program on Sonshine Media Network International of pastor Apollo Quiboloy, who has a warrant for his arrest in the US for various crimes including sex trafficking and fraud.
“Our personnel adhere to the chain of command as we perform our mission to protect the people and the state,” Trinidad said, echoing earlier assurances from AFP chief Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr. and National Security Adviser Eduardo Año.
But talks of destabilization and coup plots started when Brawner himself spoke about unrest in the military during a visit to the Western Mindanao Command headquarters on Nov. 3. He would later claim being taken out of context. – With Michael Punongbayan, Ghio Ong, Neil Jayson Servallos, Delon Porcalla