War has been declared. The battle lines have been drawn, breaking the alliance that brought together two powerful political families to the zenith of power in the country in the May 2022 elections.

For the past several months, the word war has been raging on social media as “influencers” from both sides traded vicious attacks on each other’s camps.

Several social media influencers and personalities have been defending Sara from attacks and going on the offensive by hitting the president and his cousin, Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez.

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte-Carpio were not immune from these tirades, which affected their approval and trust ratings in an independent opinion poll.

The president’s rating suffered a 15-percentage-point drop, and the vice president’s declined by 11 percentage points in the third-quarter survey done by Pulse Asia.

The slide will likely continue in the fourth-quarter survey as inflation accelerated to 6.1 percent in September.

Marcos appeared helpless in taming the galloping rise in food and fuel prices.

On the other hand, Sara’s controversial P650-million in confidential and intelligence funds and last year’s 11-day spending of P125 million in funds diverted from the Office of the President to her office shocked the nation.

The first shot in the open political war was fired in the lower house of Congress when lawmakers decided to scrap Sara’s confidential and intelligence funds for next year and reallocate the money to security services, like the military, police, Coast Guard, and the national security council to boost the government’s efforts to protect the country’s interests in the disputed West Philippine Sea.

It appeared the lawmakers followed a script in defunding Sara’s offices of P650 million in confidential and intelligence funds.

Initially, lawmakers allied with Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez appeared to be defending the vice president’s budget when this was under scrutiny from the smaller opposition bloc composed of three left-wing legislators.

But the majority allowed an intense debate into the vice president’s budget, including the funds at her Department of Education.

Then, the speaker’s ally, Marikina Congresswoman Stella Quimbo, dropped the bomb.

She corrected herself when she said the vice president spent P125 million last year in only 11 days, not 19 days as reported.

It created a storm of protest from the public, especially when the Coast Guard, tasked with protecting the West Philippine Sea, said it had spent P118 million in 17 years.

The public was further inflamed when it was revealed Sara had P2.6 billion in confidential funds as mayor of Davao City.

Her annual confidential funds of P460 million were much larger than her city’s health and education services budget.

She was compared to mayors of larger cities in the country, like Quezon City, Manila, and Makati, which have meager confidential funds but have been offering free college education and operating public hospitals.



Despite her vast confidential funds, Sara has not ended the communist insurgency in Davao City. Her city also has a higher homicide rate due to drug and petty crime killings.

It could no longer be denied that the speaker orchestrated the actions taken by lawmakers in the lower house of Congress.

Earlier, the speaker clipped the wings of Sara’s close ally in Congress, Pampanga Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, demoting her from senior deputy speaker to mere deputy speaker in the lower house.

Sara came to her side, resigning from the Lakas-CMD political party, which was her political vehicle in the last elections.

Speaker Romualdez is the head of the Lakas-CMD party and is the highest-elected politician.

Sara also criticized the speaker, saying she did not owe him her election as vice president last year.

She has stepped up her attacks on the speaker by saying that the lawmakers opposed to her confidential and intelligence funds were enemies of the state because they were not for peace.

She even described Congress’ effort to scrap her confidential and intelligence funds as “insidious.”

Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, a staunch ally of the vice president, said there was so much politicking involved in the confidential and intelligence funds issue five years before the 2028 presidential elections.

He wondered aloud why the small opposition was focused on destroying the vice president’s reputation on the issue of confidential and intelligence funds.

However, Dela Rosa could be barking up at the wrong tree. Sara’s critics and detractors are not in the small opposition groups but within the “unity team.”

President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has been silent on the raging controversy over the confidential and intelligence funds.

But there were speculations he had cast his lot on his cousin, the speaker, in the political war. It is believed that the political events revolving around the controversial confidential and intelligence funds had his blessings.

Less than two years after Marcos and Duterte-Carpio won the elections and five years before the next presidential elections, the “unity” team is unraveling.

Personal political interests are tearing the alliance apart. It appeared Marcos was not ready to hand over back power to the Dutertes. He wanted power to stay within the family.

It could be a dangerous sign as the Marcos family has a history of holding on to power.