By Darryl John Esguerra

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (PNA file photo by Darryl John Esguerra)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Thursday said he would announce by the end of the week the replacement of Vice President Sara Duterte as Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary.

Marcos, in a media interview, said the Education department is arguably the most important government agency and should not be left without a head.

“We have to carry on and the Department of Education is, possibly, arguably the most important department. Because education is that important. So no matter the change of leadership within the department, we still have to carry on,” Marcos told Palace reporters.

“So we are now, I will probably be able to, I would like to be able to announce the appointment of the DepEd Secretary by the end of the week. We cannot leave it open. We cannot just leave it like that nakatiwangwang lang na walang (vacant without a) secretary,” he said.

Duterte resigned as DepEd Secretary and vice chairperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) last week, essentially leaving the Cabinet of the Marcos administration.

In her resignation letter, Duterte said she has prepared a 30-day plan to ensure the seamless transition of the DepEd.

The President said Duterte did not provide any reason for stepping down from the Cabinet.

“She didn’t give any reason. I asked her, is there any particular reason why she has chosen to resign from the Department of Education and the NTF-ELCAC. And she said, ‘Wag na lang nating pag-usapan’, so I did not force the issue,” he said.

UniTeam’s fate

Marcos and Duterte ran and won under the UniTeam Coalition during the 2022 elections.

When asked if there is still a UniTeam, Marcos said it is up to Duterte.

“Depende lang kung ano position ni Inday Sara pagdating sa election. Siya ba ay nasa administrasyon o siya ba ay nasa oposisyon? That will be the only major determinant. But as the parties involved, pareho pa rin ang UniTeam, hindi pa nagbago (It depends on Inday Sara’s position when the election comes. Is she in the administration or is she in the opposition? That will be the only major determinant. But as the parties involved, the UniTeam is still the same, it hasn’t changed,)” he said.

Hope for next DepEd chief

A group of Catholic schools, meanwhile, hopes the next DepEd secretary will promote the welfare of both public and private educational institutions.

In an interview with Church-run Radio Veritas on Thursday, Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) president Fr. Albert Delvo said Duterte’s successor must have the vision to jointly address the problems of the education sector and boost its growth.

Delvo also recognized Duterte’s efforts in working closely with various sectors during her tenure.

“We respect VP Sara Duterte’s decision to resign from her position as DepEd secretary. Resignation is an option for employees, including elected and appointed public officials, during her tenure as DepEd Secretary, she conducted periodic consultations with Private Education leaders such as COCOPEA (Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines), CEAP and MaPSA (Manila Ecclesiastical Province School Systems Association). We appreciate this effort,” he said.

Delvo, meanwhile, wished Duterte the best in the discharge of her duties as the country’s second highest official. (with Ferdinand Patinio/PNA)