Philippine VP Duterte exits Marcos cabinet

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Marcos had accepted Duterte’s resignation from the posts of education minister and vice chair of an anti-insurgency task force…reports Asian Lite News

Philippine Vice President Sara Duterte resigned on Wednesday from the cabinet of President Ferdinand Marcos and another key post, in the latest sign that her alliance with Marcos Jr has crumbled.

Marcos had accepted Duterte’s resignation from the posts of education minister and vice chair of an anti-insurgency task force, Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil said in a statement, adding that the vice president did not provide a reason for the move.

Duterte, who will remain vice president, said in a press conference that her “resignation is not because of weakness but because of true concern for teachers and the youth.”

In the Philippines, where the president and vice president are elected separately, without a cabinet position, the vice president’s powers are largely limited to ceremonial roles.

The Marcos and Duterte families joined forces in 2022 with Sara Duterte standing as Marcos’ vice presidential running mate, allowing him to tap the Duterte family’s huge support base and seal a comeback for the disgraced Marcos dynasty.

That alliance was always expected to collapse, but analysts were surprised by how soon the gloves came off after Marcos’ predecessor, and Sara’s father, Rodrigo Duterte, accused the president in January of using drugs.

Duterte’s son, the mayor of Davao city, also called for Marcos’ resignation at the time, and Sara did not object to the calls either. “It is the break we have all been waiting for,” Jean Encinas-Franco, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines, said of the vice president’s decision to step down from her cabinet post.

Franco said Sara Duterte, who continues to enjoy high trust ratings based on independent opinion polls, would now have more leeway to criticize Marcos’ policies.

Since coming to power in 2022, Marcos has reversed Rodrigo Duterte’s pro-China stance and pivoted back to the United States, granting Washington greater access to Philippine bases amid China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea and near Taiwan.

He also brought to the fore a 2016 arbitral ruling, fortifying Manila’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, which former president Rodrigo Duterte had largely set aside.

A major blow to the Marcos-Duterte relationship came late last year when Marcos said the government was considering rejoining the International Criminal Court, nearly five years after Rodrigo had withdrawn membership over objections to a bid by the court to investigate a bloody anti-narcotics campaign under him.

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