Sara Duterte

Sara Duterte a no-show at Palarong Pambansa 2024 opening rites

John Sitchon

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Sara Duterte a no-show at Palarong Pambansa 2024 opening rites
Only President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his political allies make an appearance during the grand opening

It looks like the country’s vice president felt that prayers weighed a lot more than actually being present at the Palarong Pambansa 2024 Opening Ceremony on Tuesday, July 9.

Vice President Sara Duterte was everywhere in Cebu City but the Cebu City Sports Center, the official venue for the opening. In her social media page, she was seen around the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu “offering prayers” for the success of the national sports event.

The Vice President then proceeded to post that she was at the Cebu City Medical Center – a 10-minute walk away from the sports center.

In a Facebook post, Duterte said that she was at the medical center to visit athletes, trainers, and coaches who couldn’t join the opening. A number of the athletes had injuries during their preparatory exercises which canceled their attendance on July 9.

But what’s Duterte’s excuse?

Still DepEd Secretary

While it’s true that she had tendered her resignation as education secretary on June 19, she still holds the position until July 19. This means that she still carries the responsibility of supervising the events that transpire during the Palarong Pambansa. 

Ironically, Duterte also confirmed to local news outlets her attendance at the Palaro events during the Office of the Vice President’s Pasidungog 2024 held at Radisson Blu Hotel in Cebu City on Saturday, June 29.

Much like there being no clear reason why she decided to leave her post as education secretary, it’s also unclear why she made no appearance.

Kinikilala natin ang taunang Palarong Pambansa bilang tradisyon ng Department of Education na may malalim at makabuluhang papel sa paglinang ng ating mga mag-aaral at paghahanda para sa mas malaking kompetisyon sa buhay,” Duterte said in her Facebook post on July 9.

(We recognize the annual Palarong Pambansa as a tradition of the Department of Education that has a deep and significant role in nurturing our students and preparing them for the bigger competition in life.)

If the still-education secretary truly recognized the value of the Palarong Pambansa as a tradition that plays a role in the lives of the youth, shouldn’t she have had the decency to at least present herself at the opening ceremony?

Political alliances

Of course, while the Vice President wasn’t around, no less than the President himself made an appearance together with the proud Garcia clan of Cebu.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. made his entry to the Cebu City Sports Center with Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia and Acting Cebu City Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia, sending a message of “unity” for the vote-rich province of Cebu.

The acting mayor even called the event “the great unifier.”

“Mr. President, on behalf of the people of Cebu City, allow me to express our gratitude for your administration’s sports program and its role in cultivating the next generation of Filipino world-class athletes,” the acting mayor said in his speech, making no mention of Duterte.

Meanwhile, Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama, who also promised to be present during the events, was a no-show at the opening, too. The mayor was put under a six-month preventive suspension over unpaid salaries and discrimination faced by four city employees.

Rama has been at odds with the Garcias on different issues. It appears like Rama and Duterte are on the same boat over rocky relationships with former allies.

Nevertheless, for Palarong Pambansa 2024, one can only “pray” that the DepEd secretary, who will be in office until July 19 anyway, shows herself during one of the biggest sporting and youth events of the country. –

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