Sara Duterte

[The Slingshot] Red zipper on the mouth of Sara Duterte

Antonio J. Montalvan II

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[The Slingshot] Red zipper on the mouth of Sara Duterte
Zippers of today come in an assortment of colors. Sara Duterte’s is colored red, for Red China. She uses her mouth zipper with ease. She unzips it when she pleases.

Whitcomb L. Judson, an American inventor from Chicago, patented the zipper in 1892. It was used to bind together the edges of a flexible material for footwear, luggage, bags, tents, etc., aside from fabrics used in clothing.

Today, the zipper is a commonly used device and comes in nine various types. There is a tenth type – a virtual zipper that binds the lips of politicians and high government officials to allow them to choose which public pronouncements to say that will preserve their political and vested interests. Zippers of today also come in an assortment of colors. Sara Duterte’s is colored red, for Red China.

Sara uses her mouth zipper with ease. She unzips it when she pleases.

The following are occasions when she unzipped her mouth’s fly as vice president of the land. These were occasions when she revealed her official position as the country’s No. 2 high official or as education secretary, either by a written or verbal statement, the latter usually in her favorite medium – a statement read over recorded video.

Why through video, such as her seasonal greetings for the Red China national day every October 1, said in broken Mandarin? (N.B. She repeated her Xi Jin Ping salutations in 2023). Impromptu statements (such as during ambush interviews by media) discomfort her because of her palpable lack of articulateness of statecraft. Written or pre-recorded statements conceal her inadequacy.

She was neutral on her stand on the Russian assault in Ukraine. Asked in March 2022 when she was yet a candidate for vice president, she said local governments only follow the direction of the national government. That night, the government voted to support a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

She was silent for the most part of her first few months in office as vice president. Less talk, less mistake? But when she did, it was a shocking mistake.

In November 2022, a brawl had erupted at the basketball game of Jose Rizal University (JRU) and De La Salle University. JRU’s John Amores run amok in court, in full view of spectators, hurting two of the players. Both JRU and the NCAA suspended Amores. The two players then filed complaints of physical injuries in court against Amores.

But Sara, the education secretary, sided with Amores. She wrote him a letter that made him gush, for its almost amorous support of Amores even as he had gone berserk. And she wrote officially – “You have a friend from the Office of the Vice President.” Amores was bursting with exhilaration: “I will have this letter framed.”

A much bigger brawl erupted in July 2023. The issue was sensitive to Sara – corruption. No one but no one in her home city of Davao brings up that forbidden phrase – corruption by the Dutertes. If you see and hear the evil, zip your mouths.

Only a year in office as vice president and education secretary, the Commission on Audit had already flagged her. She opened seven satellite offices using cash from its officers subject to reimbursement in the amount of P668,197.20, a prohibited procurement practice. State auditors, of course, flagged her for non-compliance with procurement rules in violation of Republic Act 9184. Which begs the question – what procurement method was she habituated to doing at the Davao city hall?

Sara fought back, but directed her anger at ACT Teachers party list Representative France Castro. She qualified the COA red flag by saying it did not issue any notice of suspension or disallowance. ACT Teachers had hurled accusations of corruption. Sara went personal and ballistic: “Save the time and energy to conjure wild speculations about OVP spending.” And the vice presidential mouth was unzipped again, ready to rumble.

That same month in July 14, 2023, she had a statement recorded that probably goes down as her most immature yet. She was speaking as Department of Education top honcho. The event was the graduation of the Ismael Mathay Sr. High School in Quezon City. Instead, she advised students to get into romantic relationships. The remarks were ad-libbed.

Okay lang naman na mag-boyfriend at girlfriend kayo. Now na! Ngayon na, ngayon na, sige na! I-text nyo na – Iniibig kita!” (It’s OK to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend. This very moment! Right now, go ahead! Text and say – I love you!)

non-bylined blog went to her defense by interpreting her, saying that “young love and heartbreak can lead to personal growth and resilience.” But in the face of colossal problems besetting the bedridden state of education in the country, it was hardly a policy statement that could lift it from the doldrums. It magnified the major deficiency that the education secretary was unfit for policy work.

And rumbled again she did in October 2023.

The exposure was sensational. When she faced snowballing public condemnation over her requested non-audit funds amounting to P500 million for the OVP and P150 million for the DepEd, she went ballistic naturally. Why naturally? One can easily read – confidential and intelligence funds not subject to audit were her norms at the Davao city hall (P460 million annually from 2016 to 2022), and never must one question such Duterte impropriety.

The incensed public had understood the issues – transparency, accountability, and legality (no such allocations were given to her predecessor, much less the DepEd). Sara reacted with a veiled threat during a speech delivered in Butuan city. “Kung sino man kumokontra sa confidential funds ay kumokontra sa kapayapaan.” In essence, enemies of peace are those who question how she spends public money. It was gaslighting par excellence. It was also red-tagging wholesale.

It was trademark Sara Duterte caprice. The painful part was, she was unmasked. She had never been unmasked in her home turf for her use of confidential funds and ghost employees.

Sara can unzip her mouth at will. But not when it comes to defending the integrity of the country in the face of Red Chinese bullying in the West Philippine Sea. That is why the zipper on her mouth is colored red. It must not defend the Philippines over Red China ever.

Her brother Paolo offered a characteristically weird defense of his sister. Take note: Paolo is another Duterte who, each time he opens his mouth, issues statements that can be said only by a thug. It was Holy Week and he likened the public criticisms against his sister to Christ’s martyrdom. “We pause and pray this Holy Week and reflect on the savior Jesus Christ as he is nailed to the cross, we shall also reflect on why you nail everything to the Vice President. It was not the VP’s job to demonize China.”

Asked in an ambush interview why she continues to be silent on Red Chinese harassment in the WPS, Sara replied with no scruples: “No comment. My brother’s statement was comprehensive.” Please look up the meaning of comprehensive.

She crossed the ethical line once again. A family member, a sibling, does not speak officially for, and on behalf of, a high official of government. It is unbecoming at the very least. The last time that happened, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos would speak for each other because they were conjugal dictators. Paolo Duterte is not an official of the OVP nor the DepEd. But that is the unchecked habit in Davao city – governance is a family affair. The Dutertes are more than conjugal dictators.

What explains their love affair with Red China? That question needs to be asked. Various pundits have commented on it. Social media is ablaze with criticisms over her silence. It is a valid yardstick – after all, the Filipino distrust for Red China is phenomenally high consistently across all survey firms.

So what could explain the Duterte acquiescence for Red China? There may be no plausible answer as of now. There is someone, however, who has studied the numerous bank accounts of the Duterte family members and who wishes to venture into the realm of speculation, absent any clear paper trail at this moment in time.

But it is a view that may appear to be the most reasonable, that the Dutertes could be stashing their money through bank accounts in Hongkong and Xiamen, protected by the Red Chinese state. It was not incidental that whistleblower Arturo Lascañas had alleged that the Dutertes are into the drug trade, and that the business partners are Red Chinese. Any false move the Dutertes make against Xi and his dictatorship could be fatal – he could spill the beans on them. And then they could lose their wealth.

Would that paper trail of their bank accounts be laid open one day? Not only does the Filipino public need incontrovertible evidence. It is also important to stop all the money flow into their bank accounts because that is what finances their troll power, their influence, and their perpetuity in government. The Duterte fantasy must end. –

1 comment

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  1. ET

    I agree with ANTONIO J. MONTALVAN II: “Sara Duterte’s (zipper) is colored red, for Red China.” If I may add, its value is equivalent to their bank deposits in Mainland China.

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