On the eve of her ceremonial swearing in as the country’s 15th vice president, Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said the “unique legacy” she wants to leave behind after six years is a permanent residence for future vice presidents. .
Given the government’s outstanding debt of P13 trillion, will it qualify for the necessary spending, given that coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and its effects still strain the annual budget?
I’m not saying that the Office of the Vice President (OVP) doesn’t deserve to have a permanent location. The Quezon City Reception House in New Manila, used by outgoing Vice President Leni Robredo, is a space on loan from the Quezon City government. Finding an office location was also a concern for past vice presidents.
Jejomar Binay occupied the Coconut Palace in the Cultural Center complex in Pasay City, while the others used the Philippine International Convention Center and the Philippine National Bank building, also in Pasay. Salvador Laurel held the position in the former Congress building, which was designated as the permanent headquarters of the National Museum.
But the government must be in tight spending. Building a permanent home for the OVP may not be prudent at this point, and even in the next six years, when debt payments of P13 trillion will compete with spending on basic services and infrastructure support for the economic recovery. How will the OVP “permanent residency” be financed?
In addition, Duterte-Carpio recognized that the vice president’s primary mandate, as provided for in the Constitution, is to be “acting president, except when assigned a Cabinet position.”
President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. appointed Duterte-Carpio as Secretary of Education. And she said she would spend time “primarily with the Department of Education (DepEd),” which has its offices in the former University of Life complex in Pasig City. In that case, would she still need a bigger space for the OVP?
Well, she said that “we hope to benefit future vice presidents”.
But she also said, “We’re looking at other areas where we can keep all the staff in the Office of the Vice President, including the organic staff under the office.”
As she told reporters about it during a casual interview in Davao City on Saturday, she may not have had time to discuss her plans in full. She probably has more in mind for the OVP, which will require a larger space.
She said she is also setting up six satellite offices. “Let’s start with six and see how it goes because we understand there will be labor pains,” she said. Are you preparing for a higher position in 2028? There is an old saying that a politician starts preparing for another election the day after he wins.
“This will be the first time this has been done. There is no model and they are excited,” said Duterte-Carpio.
In previous interviews, Duterte-Carpio said he will continue some of the programs of his father, former President Rodrigo Duterte, particularly the multi-trillion Build, Build, Build infrastructure program and the war on illegal drugs.
She said she also plans to replicate some of her programs nationwide in Davao City, where she is the outgoing mayor. These projects include efforts to build peace in communities, responsible parenthood, education and “Do Business’ Ta Day”, which provides small business loans to women looking to start their own business.
If she also insists on her defense of changing the system of government to federalism and manages to put it into practice in six years, is there still a vice president to be elected in 2028 to occupy the permanent residence she would leave behind?
Since Duterte-Carpio’s residence is in Davao City, she may be considering finding a place there for the OVP so that she doesn’t have to commute between Davao City and Manila every now and then. But then, DepEd is in Pasig City, and she’s promised to spend more time there.
The plan needs to be carefully studied, given the government’s tight fiscal situation.