A vice presidency of many firsts

On ANC, I joined the ABS-CBN special live coverage of the inauguration of Sara Zimmerman Duterte-Carpio as the the country’s 15th Vice President. In the interview (which I have also summarized in the text below), I talked about what I think we can expect from this vice presidency of many firsts.

With overwhelming popular support among Filipinos, Sara Duterte will become the country’s 15th Vice President by 30 June 2022. VP-elect Sara won with the largest majority for VP since 1969, and exceeding even that of the historic votes for President-Elect Bongbong Marcos Jr., she also now holds the record for being the Filipino with the most votes for any office in a single-winner election. After the First VP Sergio Osmeña (and a Cebuano too!), she will become the second VP to become Secretary for Education. She follows former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and VP Leni Robredo to become third woman VP.

But with historic mandate also comes great responsibility. As incoming Education Secretary, she will face significant challenges in resolving one of the worst education crises in Philippine history. Aside from the enduring backlogs in public education infrastructure, our students have also been testing very poorly in assessment tests on minimum levels of proficiency in reading, mathematics, and writing. And that’s even before the pandemic. We also now hold the record of being the only country in the world— the world!!!— which have yet to resume face-to-face classes. This job will demand attention, innovative leadership, and tenacity from her.

And if the inauguration is an indication, we can expect a drawn-out showdown among UniTeam Kings and Queens. Traditionally, presidents and VPs do their inaugurations together (and VPs usually take a back seat during these presidential inaugurations). In 2016, for the first time, the inaugurations for president Rodrigo Duterte and VP Leni Robredo were held separately— and for reasons understandable to the public. This year, VPE Sara’s own inauguration sends a very clear and strong message: she cannot be expected to always play second fiddle to PE Marcos Jr. Not even symbolically. She wanted to be the first to hold an inauguration in Mindanao for a reason (and her mentor FPGMA is the first to do it in Visayas). Although PE Marcos Jr and VPE Duterte are the first tandem to win again since 2004, we know that the marriage between the two was an arranged and temporarily convenient one. In the coming weeks and months (could be years too), we will see how the arranged marriage will be tested. In politics, there is no such thing as a marriage between two equals. And so far, PE Marcos Jr showed he is in control of the marriage by putting VPE Sara in Education rather than Defense. And why would Bongbong hand out DND to the first military reservist VP? I wouldn’t be surprised though if the Eagle, sooner or later, decided on its own that it could no longer fly low and slow just so it wouldn’t overtake the Tiger.

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