Sara takes oath as VP before Marcos inauguration


By Maya M. Padillo and
Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporters

PRESIDENTIAL daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio took her oath as vice-president in her hometown of Davao City late Sunday, days before the presidential inauguration of her running mate in the May 9 election.

“Today, our children are facing a very complex future — one rife with conflict and uncertainties,” Ms. Duterte-Carpio, who is set to take charge of the Education department, said. “Some of these challenges include the winding cycle of poverty, the trauma of broken families, the lifelong baggage because of irresponsible and bad parenting.”

Ms. Duterte-Carpio also mentioned drugs, sexually transmitted diseases, online misinformation, recruitment by supposed “terrorist” groups as among the issues confronting Filipino children. 

She also mentioned “abandonment issues due to an absentee parent” and the “anguish of gender confusion” and discrimination. “The list could be endless.”

“We can never go wrong if we are a people dedicated to honoring the will of God, to serving our country and our fellowmen and protecting the integrity of our families and the future of our children,” Ms. Duterte-Carpio said.

President-elect Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., with whom Ms. Duterte-Carpio ran under a unity message, attended her inauguration. Both won the election by a landslide.

Her father President Rodrigo R. Duterte, mother Elizabeth A. Zimmerman and partymate former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo also attended the event. Some senators and congressmen and diplomats were likewise present.

Supreme Court Justice Paul L. Hernando, her former professor in law school, administered the oath. Ms. Duterte-Carpio, 44, at the weekend said she would have the shortest inaugural speech by a Philippine vice-president, citing potentially bad weather. She added that the theme of her speech would be similar to remarks she made during the campaign.

“We do not control the weather, so we do not know what will happen in the next minute,” she told reporters in Davao City on Saturday. “It will be very short and will focus on the messages that I gave during the campaign, reiterating what we should do as a country.”

Ms. Duterte-Carpio said she wanted to hold her inaugural ceremony in her hometown in the Mindanao region. Her father, outgoing President Rodrigo R. Duterte, was the first president from Mindanao.

“I know that people from the province take pride in the fact that there is a vice-president from Mindanao,” she said in mixed English and Filipino.

Political analysts said Mr. Marcos must remain popular during his six-year term to avoid a rift with Ms. Duterte-Carpio.

“I think it is natural for Sara to distance herself if there is discontent against Marcos, especially if she intends to run in 2028,” Jean Encinas-Franco, who teaches political science at the University of the Philippines (UP), said in a mobile phone message. “The 2025 mid-term elections and the trust ratings of Marcos will test the strength of their alliance.”

Ms. Duterte-Carpio’s spokesperson, Liloan Mayor Christina Codilla-Frasco, and Victor D. Rodriguez, Mr. Marcos’ chief of staff, did not immediately reply to separate Viber messages seeking comments.

Mr. Marcos Jr. has chosen Ms. Duterte-Carpio as his Education chief. She earlier said she wanted to head the Defense department.

“The offer of the education portfolio is an indication of the Marcos camp starting to flex its muscle,” Ms. Franco said.

“We expect the Carpio camp, together with the kingmaker Gloria Arroyo, to mount a separate slate for the Senate and even a separate slate for local positions in the 2025 midterm elections,” said Arjan P. Aguirre, who teaches political science at the Ateneo de Manila University. “This is to prepare for the next presidential elections in 2028.”

Ms. Duterte-Carpio could easily mobilize her own bloc for the midterm challenge through political machinery and traditional alliances, which her partymate Ms. Arroyo could broker, he said in a Facebook Messenger chat.

“Marcos has to be careful in dealing with Duterte-Carpio because her camp can really do these things in the years to come,” Mr. Aguirre said. “His presidency is built on a shaky foundation based on an alliance of convenience and not of principle.”

The alliance is weak because “it is bound by the need to win and for the families’ interests to be protected,” Maria Ela L. Atienza, a political science professor at UP, said in a Viber message.

“They are not bound by principles and party programs,” she said. “They already won. If the interests of their respective families are threatened, that can cause tensions in the alliance.”

People should expect efforts to continue the “unity façade,” Ms. Atienza said. “What we should watch out for is if the president-elect will have high trust ratings and remain popular.”

She said the disqualification cases against Mr. Marcos Jr. at the Supreme Court, the potential lawsuits against Mr. Duterte in connection with his war on drugs, and the possible sidelining of Ms. Duterte-Carpio and her allies could weaken the alliance.

Before being elected vice-president, the presidential daughter served as Davao City mayor, a position held by her father for more than two decades. Her brother, Vice Mayor Sebastian Z. Duterte, will succeed her.

Mr. Duterte took his oath at a small ceremony at the presidential palace in Manila, the capital on June 30, 2016. Vice-President Maria Leonor G. Robredo, who came from a different party, was inaugurated separately on the same day.