Open War

By Artchil B. Fernandez

Finally, the façade is removed; the charade is over. The gloves are off. The play-acting has ended. It must have been agonizingly hard for both sides to maintain the pretense. It’s now open war, and the long-awaited exciting part is here.

The raging war was first silently waged in the digital space, which later surfaced and reached a point of no return. The conflict is now open, with both parties gearing for a battle royale in the 2025 elections and its ultimate conclusion in 2028. The proxy war is over, and the open war has begun.

This week, Vice President Sara Duterte left the cabinet of Bongbong Marcos (BBM) by resigning as Secretary of Education. She also vacated her post as vice chair of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac). BBM accepted her resignation.

She did not provide any reason for her resignation from the cabinet and gave a short, terse statement. “My resignation is not from a place of weakness but is brought about by my genuine concern for teachers and the Filipino youth,” Sara Duterte told the public.

Nobody was surprised that the daughter of Du30 left the cabinet. “What took her this long?” flashed in the public’s mind instead. Sara Duterte’s resignation was long expected. Her position in BBM’s cabinet had become untenable when her father and brothers started to attack BBM in public gatherings masquerading as “prayer” rallies. That she clung to her post despite the intense animosities kept people wondering.

Sara Duterte’s resignation from the cabinet officially terminates the UniTeam. Last week, she already hinted at the official dissolution of the alliance with a cryptic pronouncement during the 126th Independence Day celebration in Davao City. “The elections are over, and we already won, and we thanked our countrymen for their support for our tandem in 2022,” she declared. “We are not candidates anymore.”

The breakup of UniTeam was projected the moment it was formed. The cartel of political dynasties was a forced marriage of political convenience. What united the key members of the alliance was their common hatred for the “pinklawans,” the rebranded “dilawans.” They dreaded the victory of the opposition in the 2022 elections, fearing they would be held accountable for their abuse of power, corruption, and a host of high crimes against the Filipino nation. Victory in the 2022 elections removed the “raison d’état” of the cartel. Sooner or later, their interests were bound to clash.

The intensifying feud between the principal figures in the cartel of dynasties – House Duterte and House Marcos – fueled the breakup of UniTeam barely two years after its formation. The political landscape has been drastically altered by the dissolution of UniTeam. The country has entered an exciting, interesting, and volatile time, and the 2025 elections will be the battleground of warring parties.

Sara Duterte’s resignation points to the polarization of the 2025 local and national elections between Team Tigre and Team Agila. The 2025 election will test the strength of the two camps. The outcome of the 2025 election will shape the 2028 election. Whoever emerges victorious will have the advantage in the 2028 concluding clash.

The departure of Sara Duterte from the cabinet is strategically important to Team Agila. Her staying in the cabinet ties her hands. Resigning gives Sara Duterte the freedom to fortify Team Agila and strengthen it as it vies for dominance in next year’s election. For her to give Team Agila unequivocal and strong assistance, she has to leave BBM’s nest. Her pretending to be with the administration only weakens Team Agila and prevents her from giving it all-out support.

The consolidation of Team Agila is a major consideration in Sara Duterte leaving the cabinet. Freed from bureaucratic responsibilities, she can now focus on building up Team Agila for the 2025 and 2028 elections. Now outside the cabinet, she can lead Team Agila effectively in open warfare against Team Tigre.

It is difficult for Sara Duterte to remain in BBM’s official family as she and he are on opposite sides on crucial issues like the territorial dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea. BBM has aggressively asserted the country’s sovereignty in that strategic part of the country being grabbed by China.

Inday Sara, on the other hand, largely kept silent on many incidents involving China’s aggressive and violent behavior in the West Philippine Sea. Her father is a rabid supporter of China and has constantly supported China’s theft of Philippine territory. Sara Duterte’s deafening silence in the face of China’s bullying antics indicates she shares her father’s pro-China stance.

China will likely intervene in the 2025 and 2028 elections through its puppets, the Dutertes. Sara Duterte will carry the torch for the rising imperialist power and assist its creeping invasion of the country. She cannot serve China well by staying in a cabinet critical of the bully neighbor. Leaving the cabinet is the best way for her to defend China.

Sara Duterte’s decision to leave BBM’s cabinet signals the days of niceties are over. Knives are out, and swords are drawn. The cocaine-fentanyl war has leveled up, and in this phase of the conflict, both sides will play dirty, even bloody. The clash between Team Agila and Team Tigre will be messy, and both sides are gearing for the worst. This stage of the fight demands Sara Duterte’s top attention and concentration. Resignation from the cabinet is the only way she can do the full-time job of leading Team Agila.

While the open war between House Duterte and House Marcos is bad for their followers and supporters, this is perhaps the best gift of fate to the nation. Both are rotten to the core. They deserve each other but not the country. Let them smash each other.