Duterte tells Briones: 'I take inspiration from you'

As she formally assumed the position as a Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary, Vice President Sara Duterte on Monday, July 4, paid tribute to her predecessor Leonor Briones.

Vice President and DepEd Secretary Sara Duterte (left) with former Education Secretary Leonor Briones during the turnover of leadership on July 4, 2022. (Photo courtesy of DepEd)

“Secretary Liling is a force,” Duterte said in a speech during the “Pasasalamat At Pagpupugay” event at the Bulwagan ng Karunungan, DepEd Central Office in Pasig City.

“And I am humbled and honored to follow in the footsteps of a much-admired academic, public servant, social activist, and change-maker,” Duterte added.

The event, which was a joint farewell and welcome ceremony, also paved the way for the ceremonial turnover of DepEd leadership from Briones to Duterte.

Duterte recognized the contribution of Briones to the country’s education system during her stint as DepEd Chief.

“When we talk about governance and public service, we talk about dedication, commitment, integrity, and selflessness,” Duterte said, noting Briones has become the embodiment of all these qualities.

The new Education Secretary also thanked Briones for sharing her expertise. “Ma’am Liling, you have completed your mission, and we are all here today to celebrate the victories that you and the entire Department of Education have collected over the past six years under the Duterte administration,” Duterte said.

Duterte also took note of Briones’ accomplishments such as the full implementation of the Senior High School program (SHS) that “eventually allowed parents and students to see its significance in providing our graduates with the necessary skills relevant to today’s dynamic workforce.”

She also recognized Briones’ leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic. “DepEd adapted and implemented bold but necessary measures to provide Filipino children accessible and quality education — ensuring that learning is unhampered and our learners are not left out — while also ensuring the economic welfare of our teachers and the non-teaching personnel working under the organization,” Duterte said.

With the challenges emanating from the Covid-19 pandemic, Duterte said that Briones’ “light shone the brightest as a leader, an educator, and a Filipina who has a deep concern for the education sector and love of country.”

Duterte also noted that Briones and the whole DepEd organization, “never cowered in the face of disapproval, public frustration, and pressure.”

Amid the calls for an academic freeze amid the pandemic, Duterte cited DepEd’s response which was academic ease under Briones’ leadership.

“And it was a brilliant, appropriate, and timely response — made with will and resolve, and foresight — that our children’s learning is shielded from the adverse impact of the pandemic,” Duterte said.

Duterte also commended Briones for her stand that “Education must continue. Education must never stop” even amid a pandemic. This, she said, was a statement that defined the direction of DepEd under Briones’ watch.

Briones, Duterte said, also soldiered on for the sake of the Filipino children. “And as I take on the task of being the next Secretary of the Department of Education, I take inspiration from you — from your courage, dedication, your commitment, your integrity, selflessness, and your grace,” she added.