MANILA (3rd UPDATE) — Vice President Sara Duterte has resigned from the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) Party, she said on Friday, days after her ally, former President and Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's demotion in the House of Representatives.
Duterte ran for vice president under Lakas-CMD party in the 2022 elections, and replaced Sen. Bong Revilla as its chairperson.
In a statement, Duterte thanked the party members for their support.
"I am grateful to all the party members for the support that also once demonstrated that unity is possible to advance our shared dreams for our fellow Filipinos and our beloved country," she said.
Duterte said her commitment to serve the country and its people remained "immutable."
"I am here today because of the trust of the Filipino people in me to lead and serve them and the country, and this cannot be poisoned by political toxicity or undermined by execrable political power play," she added.
She also called on "all leaders" to continue working for the betterment of the Philippines and "leave a legacy of a strong and stable homeland."
WHAT WENT BEFORE
Duterte's resignation comes after Arroyo, another member of Lakas-CMD, was demoted from Senior Deputy Speaker to Deputy Speaker.
On Thursday, Arroyo denied that she was planning to oust House Speaker Martin Romualdez.
In a statement following Duterte's resignation, Revilla said Lakas-CMD remained united under Romualdez, its president.
"Our decades-long solidarity has witnessed and endured many trials which only strengthened our bond that is founded on our shared passion to serve our nation. Through the darkest of storms and greatest of tribulations, we have proven time and again that our unity will never be torn down," he said.
He also described their party as "sinubok pero hindi nawasak, bagkus ay palakas pa ng palakas (tested but not broken, and has even grown stronger and stronger)."
The Lakas-CMD said it accepted Duterte's resignation.
“As we respect her decision, we understand her reason for leaving the political party,” said the party's Secretary General, Agusan del Norte 1st District Rep. Joboy Aquino.
CRACKS IN UNITEAM
Meanwhile, a group of progressive lawmakers in the lower House said Arroyo's demotion may be a sign that there are cracks in the administration's "Uniteam."
House Deputy Minority Leader and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro believes that Duterte’s resignation from the Lakas-CMD is connected to what happened to Arroyo.
“Sa tingin natin itong ginawang demotion ng speaker kay former Senior Deputy Speaker GMA ay totoo naman yung sinabi ni GMA prerogative, prerogative ng Speaker pero ano kaya yung nangyari?" Castro said.
(I believe Deputy Speaker Arroyo's demotion is really the Speaker's prerogative, but what really happened?)
“Maaga pa lang ay nabiyak na, nabibiyak na yung uniteam o napupunit na itong uniteam na pinangungunahan ni Marcos Jr at ni Vice President Sara Duterte," she added.
(Cracks in the Uniteam are appearing as early as now.)
Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas believes the split has been brewing for some time, while Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel believes it was the result of an alliance that was supposedly not formed based on principles.
“Kapag ang alliance ay hindi nakabatay sa principles or platform magiging fragile talaga ang mabubuong alliance at hindi ito magtatagal ng mahabang panahon," he said.
"Mas mainam nga kung ang pinag-aawayan di ba ay mga posisyon sa mga isyu ng bayan kung ang pinag-aawayan ay mga posisyon nakabatay sa mga vested interest ng iilan. Di ito bentahe para sa mga mamayan,” Manuel added.
(If alliances are not based on principles, it will be fragile and won't last long. It will be better for parties to debate about their positions on issues of national interest instead of positions of power based on their vested interests. This won't work for the people.)
WHO REPLACES ARROYO
Arroyo was replaced by Pampanga 3rd District Rep. Aurelio "Dong" Gonzales Jr.
Gonzales was congratulated by his party, PDP-Laban, in a separate statement.
"We consider the move of the House of Representatives to elevate Rep. Gonzales to the second highest position in the chamber as a recognition of our partymates’ invaluable contribution to the unprecedented work that the House has accomplished less than a year in our term," PDP-Laban president Jose Alvarez said.
Alvarez said the party remains committed to the supermajority formed by Romualdez in the lower chamber.
"We continue to work hand-in-hand and in close partnership with Speaker Martin Romualdez, who have mobilized a multi-partisan coalition in the House of Representatives to help President Marcos deliver his commitment to our people," he said.
"The election of Rep Gonzales show the strong ties and cooperation between the Speaker’s party Lakas CMD and PDP Laban in serving the Filipino people."
— With reports from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News