Philippine Vice President Sara Duterte resigning from posts in Marcos' Cabinet as alliance flounders

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine Vice President Sara Duterte is resigning from her posts of education secretary and head of an anti-insurgency body, as her whirlwind alliance with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. unraveled over key differences, including efforts to arrest a religious leader accused of child abuses and Manila’s handling of escalating territorial disputes with Beijing.

Duterte will remain the vice president. Her resignation from the other posts she had in Marcos' Cabinet was accepted by the president and takes effect July 19, Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil said in a statement Wednesday.

Duterte, 46, did not cite any reason for her resignation, Garafil said, but there have been open political hostilities between her father, former President Rodrigo Duterte, and Marcos.

She ran as the vice-presidential running mate of Marcos, the son and namesake of an ousted dictator, under a hastily forged unity ticket and won with huge margins in 2022. The alliance of the scions of two authoritarian leaders combined the voting power of their families’ political strongholds but compounded worries of human rights activists. The alliance, however, rapidly faced political headwinds.

Early this year, the former president accused Marcos’ legislative allies of plotting to amend the constitution to lift term limits and warned that could lead to him being ousted by a public uprising like his father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, in 1986. He also accused Marcos of being a drug addict.

Marcos laughed off the allegations and claimed his predecessor was using fentanyl, a powerful opioid.

Duterte and his daughter, Sara, back Apollo Carreon Quiboloy, the leader of a Philippines-based church known as the Kingdom of Jesus Christ who has been sought by Philippine authorities for his alleged involvement in child abuse and exploitation. Quiboloy had also been indicted on a raft of charges in the United States, including conspiracy, sex trafficking of children and sex trafficking by force. He has denied any wrongdoing.

On China’s increasingly aggressive moves against the Philippines in the South China Sea, Marcos has become one of the most vocal critics of Beijing’s actions, in sharp contrast to the vice president’s refusal to comment on the issue.

Her father nurtured cozy ties during his presidency with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian leader Vladimir Putin while often criticizing the security policies of the United States and its Western allies. Marcos, who took office in 2022, backpedaled by rapidly boosting security ties with Washington, which he said needed to have a presence in Asia as a counterweight to China.

Marcos also announced that he would shift his predecessor’s brutal crackdown against illegal drugs which killed thousands of mostly poor suspects, to refocus on the rehabilitation of drug dependents. The killings under Duterte sparked an investigation by the International Criminal Court as a possible crime against humanity.