Sara’s June 12 call for unity overshadowed by Uniteam rift

Jun. 13, 2024

DAVAO CITY, Philippines- Questions linger when Vice President Sara Duterte’s message for the country’s 126th Independence Day called for unity when her alliance with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr seems headed towards a split.

Last June 12, Duterte attended Davao City’s commemoration, away from Marcos Jr’s events in Manila which included a grand lunch with dignitaries.

The Vice President was joined by local government officials, dignitaries, and security forces in a wreath-laying ceremony at Rizal Park in San Pedro Square.

Her brother, Mayor Sebastian Duterte, was absent from the event.

In her speech after the wreath-laying ceremony, the Vice President acknowledged the sacrifices of Filipino heroes in the past for the country’s freedom and emphasized that it should serve as a reminder for the public to come together for the nation’s progress.  

 “Ito ay isa ring palala sa atin na ipagpatuloy natin ang pagtutulungan at pagkakaisa tungo sa isang matatag, mapayapa, at maunlad na bansang Pilipinas, (let this be a reminder that we continue our cooperation and unity towards a strong, peaceful and prosperous Filipino nation)” she said.

But her call for unity comes within a seeming rift of the Marcos-Duterte alliance.

When Davao Today asked the vice president about current status of the Uniteam, given the recent political tensions between them, she gave an indirect reply.

I think natubag na nako na kana na question kaniadto sa isa ka interview, na nag Uniteam was the tandem during the 2022 elections. Human ang elections and nadaog mi and naga-pasalamat mi sa atoang mga kaigsoonan, sa ating mga kababayan at sa kanilang suporta sa tandem (I think I answered that in a previous interview, that the Uniteam was the tandem during the 2022 elections. We won and we are thankful to all the support from the people for the tandem),” Duterte said.

When asked what is the status now after the elections, Duterte said “we are not candidates anymore.”

When asked by a reporter how she feels with the issues confronting her and her family, she said, “Bisag gidaug-daog mo, dapat gwapa gihapon mo. (Even if you’re being picked on, try to stay beautiful)”

The rift between the two parties started early this year as the Dutertes slammed the people’s initiative for charter change, which they insinuated was started by Marcos Jr’s cousin House Speaker Martin Romualdez to extend their rule beyond 2028.

The Dutertes launched a series of rallies called Hakbang ng Maisug (Step of the Brave) in Davao, Cebu and Tagum, which saw former President Rodrigo Duterte and Mayor Sebastian hurling accusations on Marcos Jr. such as his alleged drug abuse and failure in leadership.

Vice President Sara has not attended nor spoke in these rallies, but was present during the Davao rally.

Questions arose from Congress regarding the use of their public funds by the Vice President and also of her brother, first district Representative Paolo Duterte. 

The Dutertes are also facing pressure with the International Criminal Court bent on pursuing this year the case of extrajudicial killings under the former president’s war on drugs campaign.

Broadcast programs for Duterte and his allies in the station controlled by Duterte ally and “spiritual adviser” Apollo Quiboloy had been shut down for irregularities in the station found by Congress. Quiboloy is in hiding since February as he faces arrest on trafficking and sexual abuse charges and has remained in hiding.

Few weeks ago, 34 police officials including the city’s police director were relieved from their posts as they face probe on the killings of seven drug suspects last March. 

Political analyst Ronald Llamas believes that Sara Duterte’s statements now shows she is now positioning herself as an opposition in preparation for 2025 ang her possible run for the presidency.   

“She has to do something disruptive. This could be part of the strategy that she has to scale up as leader of the opposition,” Llamas said in a television interview.(

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