MANILA — Vice presidential candidate Walden Bello on Thursday expressed alarm over the planned appointment of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio as chief of the Department of Education.
In a virtual press conference organized by the Partido Lakas ng Masa, Bukluran ng Mangagagawang Pilipino and Sanlakas to assess the results of the elections, Bello warned that placing Duterte-Carpio at the helm of DepEd might lead to a militarized youth.
Duterte-Carpio, now regarded as presumptive vice president based on partial unofficial tally of votes cast during the May 9 polls, previously proposed a 2-year mandatory military training for 18-year-olds, citing the practice in other countries like South Korea and Israel.
The proposal, according to Bello, is “dangerous.”
“Ito ay isang proposal para ma-militarize yung edukasyon ng ating mga kabataan. Mukha yatang delikado talaga ito kasi baka ma-convert niya yung DepEd into a gigantic Philippine Military Academy. Yun talaga ang worry ko. Ang pag-iisip ni Sara eh yung pag-iisip ng isang militarista,” the sociology professor said.
Bello also balked at what he thinks is Duterte-Carpio’s lack of qualifications to lead the DepEd.
“Wala naman siyang qualifications to be DepEd chief. Dapat talaga, ang head ng isang government department, mayroon experience doon sa mga katungkulan ng department na yon. At wala akong nakikita sa record ni Sara na mayroon siyang record na you know, naging guro, naging propesor, na talagang tiningnan niya yung karanasan at nakibahagi siya sa karanasan ng mga educator,” he said.
“Ito ay isang pure political appointment na walang justification… This appointment raises a lot of questions about how this regime will conduct itself,” he added.
Bello continued being a full-time academic even after his foray into politics as Akbayan Party-List representative from 2007 to 2015, and has written numerous books on development and politics.
He holds degrees from Ateneo de Manila University and Princeton University and has taught at the University of the Philippines and in different universities in New York, Kyoto and California.
Duterte-Carpio, meanwhile, is a lawyer and has mostly served as local chief executive in Davao City.
Presumptive President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. on Wednesday announced that his Halalan 2022 running mate agreed to become the next DepEd chief. Duterte-Carpio acknowledged accepting the post in a statement Thursday.
"Yesterday, the presumptive President and I once again talked about how I could help the country. It was decided that I would work on producing skilled learners with the mindset to realize their full potential as individuals," she said.
"Our country needs a future generation of patriotic Filipinos that advocate peace and discipline in their respective communities."
Marcos spokesman Vic Rodriguez said Duterte-Carpio is qualified to lead the agency as she is a lawyer.
"Is she qualified? Definitely. She’s a lawyer. She has the confidence of the 31 million Filipinos who voted her into office. She enjoys the trust and confidence of President-elect Bongbong. Let’s give her a chance so that she can run ably the Department of Education," Rodriguez said.
"He (Marcos) believes that Vice President-elect Sara Duterte can lead the Department of Education well and he believes she is up to the challenge."
Duterte-Carpio was earlier reported to be eyeing the Defense department.
For Bello’s running mate, presidential candidate Ka Leody de Guzman, the planned appointment of Duterte-Carpio to the DepEd could be seen as a way to distance her from taking on the Defense post.
“Pwede rin nating silipin na hindi ibinigay kay Sara yung Defense dahil delikado para sa mga Marcoses 'yan na mahawakan ng mga Duterte ang defense,” he said.
The top DND post is seen as a powerful position as it has control over the armed forces, which in past administrations spelled the end or survival of a president’s tenure.
Corazon Aquino’s presidency from 1986 until 1992 was rocked by multiple coup attempts, while Joseph Estrada’s tenure ended midway his term when the armed forces and police withdrew support in January 2001 as he faced corruption allegations.
Incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte is believed to have cultivated stronger ties with the security sector. He has provided state forces with better benefits and appointed retired generals to key government posts.
“Dalawang objective ang nakuha niya diyan na parang ngayon pa lang ay sinisimulan na yung pagtitiyak na ang dynasty ng South, hindi magiging sa dynasty ng North. Dahil ako’y naniniwala na hindi papayag ang susunod na presidente sa next election ay si Sara, hindi papayag ang mga Marcoses,” De Guzman said.
“Kaya double blade ang kanyang ginawa. Alisin ng threat ang mga Marcoses sa kanilang reign ngayon mula sa South. Nagsisimula na. Dahil ganyang mga dynasty, walang permanent na friend, walang permanent na enemy,” he concluded.
Bello warned the Marcos-Duterte tandem is an “alliance of convenience” which could soon fall apart.
“Magsisimula itong fight between 2 powerful dynasties. Alam niyo, alliance of convenience 'yan. At alam naman natin yung alliance of convenience, very short term' yung mga 'yan. At mag-aaway-away hindi lang itong mga dalawa kundi yung ibang mga provincial at mga local elites na sumama sa kanila kasi nga, wala naman silang point of unity except yung division of the spoils,” he said.
“I think what we’re going to see is that, unang-una, marami ‘yung madidismaya and ma-disappoint doon sa bumoto sa kanila because they will not be able to deliver at all on their promises. Pangalawa, mahahati ang gobyerno riyan. Pangatlo, mahahati ang militar,” he added.
The next 6 years, Bello said, are critical.
“Magkakaroon ng inter-dynastic infighting kaya magulo itong next 6 years,” he said.
“Importantly, for progressive forces, for pro-human rights forces, for pro-democaratic forces to hang together so that we will restore true democracy in this country.”
Duterte-Carpio quashed talk of a possible rift with Marcos after she was offered the education department portfolio instead of the DND.
Marcos and Duterte-Carpio both lead the presidential and vice presidential race with over 31 million votes each, based on the Comelec transparency server, as of 2:17 p.m. of May 12.