Sara Duterte

After SONA, VP Duterte goes all out in taunting, red-tagging Makabayan bloc

Bea Cupin

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After SONA, VP Duterte goes all out in taunting, red-tagging Makabayan bloc

Vice President Sara Duterte attends President Ferdinand Marcos Jr's first State of the Nation Address on July 25, 2022, Angie de Silva/Rappler

The Makabayan bloc calls on the Vice President to just expound on her ‘supposed advocacy in support of IPs’ instead of red-tagging progressive party-list groups

MANILA, Philippines – Hours after kicking off a program to prepare school buildings for the return to face-to-face classes, Vice President Sara Duterte taunted the progressive Makabayan bloc, accusing them – without clear basis – of having a “love affair” with communist groups. 

“I always have time for Makabayan bloc,” said the Vice President, who is also education chief, in a statement to media on Monday, August 1. On the same day, Duterte led in Cavite the launch of Brigada Eskwela, a regular program to prepare for the resumption of basic education classes. 

In a statement released through the Office of the Vice President, Duterte blasted the Makabayan bloc – an alliance of progressive party-list groups and their representatives – of releasing “hypocritical, dramatic, and rehashed” statements. 

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Marami na ang naloko ng Makabayan bloc. Magaling sila sa propaganda at sanay sila sa pagsisinungaling,” she said, accusing the bloc of having a “love affair” with the rebel New People’s Army, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and the Communist Party of the Philippines. 

(The Makabayan bloc has fooled many. They are good at propaganda and they are used to lying.)

Duterte, the second-highest elected official in the land, said she’d take it upon herself to supposedly “bring out the truth” about the Makabayan bloc, whom she said had “fooled” many.

The Vice President also taunted Makabayan over how they fared in the 2022 polls.  

Red-tagging is when people – most dangerously, elected officials and state forces – accuse individuals or groups of having ties to the communist movement, with little to no proof. 

While Vice President Duterte’s beef against progressive groups runs deep, this particular spat was triggered by something recent – her choice of attire to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s first State of the Nation Address at the Batasang Pambansa on July 25. 

Duterte, former Davao City mayor, borrowed a “Bagobo Tagabawa traditional dress from Bae Sheirelle Anino, the Deputy Mayor of the Tagabawa tribe of Davao City.”

Activists and progressive groups said Duterte was being a hypocrite for wearing a traditional Lumad attire while supposedly cracking down on Lumad groups and shutting down their schools.

The August 1 retort from Duterte was in response to a release from Makabayan that said they were “surprised to immediately receive another rejoinder from the second highest official of the land – who should be very busy at this point preparing for the resumption of face-to-face classes.”

The bloc went on to defend the schools that were shut down over “imagined links to communist rebels” and said they were closed because of mere allegations from former National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict vice chair Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

Lumad schools have been the target of harassment and shutdown, especially under the administration of the Vice President’s father, former president Rodrigo Duterte. 

“We hope VP Duterte will devote more time fleshing out her supposed advocacy in support of IPs instead of red-tagging Makabayan bloc and engaging in all sorts of fallacious rejoinders. If indeed she stands squarely with and among the Lumad, the issue with her SONA outfit would not have led into a massive public backlash,” the bloc said.  –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.