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FIRING LINE: Is Sara sweating under pressure?

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Vice President Sara Duterte’s evasion of straightforward questions and her penchant for deflecting criticism with vague responses were hard to watch at congressional hearings on the budgets of her office and the Department of Education last week.

While the DepEd is set to receive a generous boost in the 2024 budget, VP Inday’s inability to address basic queries about a P125-million transfer of confidential funds is concerning. Instead of offering clear explanations, she resorts to denials and clapbacks with party-list Rep. France Castro and Sen. Risa Hontiveros, ultimately failing to address the core issues.

In a Congress dominated by her allies, it’s disappointing to see Duterte evade scrutiny and resort to theatrical walk-outs. She clearly does not forget but only arrogantly ignores to submit to the accountability expected of her post and office.

This lack of transparency regarding the use of confidential funds and the unanswered questions only add to the growing list of concerns about leaders of this type. It’s time for substance over spectacle, VP Sara. Or are you sweating under pressure?

A tough Pope

In the wake of allegations of sexual abuse involving minors, Pope Francis has taken decisive action, defrocking a priest from the Diocese of Borongan. The message is clear: there is no sanctuary within the Church for such acts.

The Church’s commitment to transparency is evident with the creation of an office dedicated to protecting minors from potential abuse by clergy members and the assurance that there will be no cover-up. Accountability is the order of the day.

As the accused seeks clarity, it’s a reminder that no one is above the law, and the Church is taking steps to ensure justice prevails. Firing Line commends Pope Francis, whose action defines his dedication to confront abusers and uphold the values of the faith.

Time for a stepback?

I imagine hotter heads mocking Francis Jardeleza’s cautionary voice in the Philippines-China. But the former solicitor general’s position on the dispute is a stark reminder of diplomatic realities. While talk of another arbitration case looms, Jardeleza points out that the UN General Assembly may not be the arena for victory, given China’s veto power as a member of the assembly.

President Marcos’s decision to skip the UN meeting aligns with this prudence, as there’s no sense courting a potentially catastrophic outcome. Even the global expectation for the leaders of the US and China — to reciprocate responsible diplomacy — has become a delicate matter to tread.

While Jardeleza’s assertion that the 2016 arbitration victory provides solid legal footing is valid, he wisely suggests alternative routes to address China’s aggression in the West Philippine Sea and focus on specific incidents, like its recent swarming activities and destruction of the marine environment. That may be a more effective strategy.

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SHORT BURSTS. Firing Line urges government agencies, LGUs, NGOs, and families to join the Alay Lakad on Sunday, September 24, 2023. Place of assembly is in front of the Manila Planetarium on P. Burgos Street, Manila at 5 a.m. It’s a short walk to the Quirino Grandstand of The Luneta… For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View via X app (formerly Twitter). Read current and past issues of this column at

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