Sara Duterte on DepEd post: PH needs new generation of advocates for peace, discipline

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 12) — Leading vice presidential bet Sara Duterte on Thursday thanked her running mate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. for her appointment as Education secretary, despite having eyed a different Cabinet post in the past.

In a statement, the presidential daughter and Davao City mayor admitted that she and Marcos initially talked about the possibility of her leading the Department of National Defense, but she explained what made her eventually change her mind.

"Seeing the way things are at the moment, I expect that people who want to see the new administration to fail will fabricate intrigues about my loyalty and the DND position to break the UniTeam,” Duterte said.

“It was decided that I would work on producing skilled learners with the mindset to realize their full potential as individuals. Our country needs a future generation of patriotic Filipinos that advocate peace and discipline in their respective communities,” Duterte added.

In an interview with CNN Philippines' The Source on Thursday morning, Duterte's spokesperson Liloan Mayor Christina Garcia Frasco said the mayor has indicated preference for the DND post in the recent past, and that preference has not changed so far.

READ: Sara Duterte still wants Defense chief post, spox says

But Duterte's camp changed tune later in the day, clarifying that Duterte "has not expressed preference for any cabinet position" — just minutes before Marcos announced her DepEd appointment.

"We fully recognize that the choosing of cabinet positions is within the discretion of the President," Frasco said.

Meanwhile, Duterte thanked incumbent DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones and the entire agency “for their readiness to work with our team for the transition of leadership after the proclamation."

RELATED: Sara Duterte to become DepEd chief under Marcos admin 

Briones welcomed the announcement, adding that the department is ready to work with Duterte's team for an orderly transition.

Duterte's appointment was met with criticisms that her leadership will result in the erasure, censorship, and misinformation on key historical and social issues, particularly the Martial Law atrocities under the Marcos regime.

Her running mate previously raised the need for educational institutions to revise the content of history textbooks which depicted their family in a bad light.

READ: Concerns mount over Duterte's appointment as DepEd chief

Some also slammed Duterte's previous proposal of imposing mandatory military service training for the youth.

Duterte, however, clarified that there are still no discussions with anyone regarding the mandatory Reserve Officers' Training Corps. This came after her close friend, lawyer Bruce Rivera said in a radio interview that the vice presidential candidate really wants to bring it back.

"This is to inform the public that Mayor Sara Duterte and Atty. Bruce Rivera have never discussed anything about ROTC or the Department of Education. Any interviews granted by Atty. Rivera are his personal thoughts," Duterte said in a social media post.

"There is no point in getting all caught up in the opinion of Atty. Rivera when there is no proclamation yet and no official appointment document from the Office of the President. Atty. Christina Frasco is the spokesperson and is the only individual who can speak for and in behalf of Sara Duterte at this point," she added.

In January, Duterte said she will push for the imposition of mandatory military service for all Filipinos upon turning 18 years old, which is something that her father, President Rodrigo Duterte, has been also pushing when he assumed the top post in 2016. 

ROTC was made optional as one of three National Service Training Program (NSTP) courses for college and university students following the controversial death of ROTC Officer Mark Chua who had published an exposé on alleged irregularities in the ROTC unit of his school, the University of Santo Tomas (UST), in its students' publication The Varsitarian.