Sara Zimmerman Duterte is the Vice President and Secretary of Education in the Philippines. She is popularly known in the Philippines as Inday Sara. The nickname Inday means beloved in the Visayan language. She is the second child of Rodrigo Roa Duterte, the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines, and Elizabeth Zimmerman Duterte, a former flight attendant and teacher. Sara is the first-ever elected woman and the youngest vice mayor and mayor of Davao City.
Her life is profoundly backdropped by her family’s long history in politics and public service. Her socio-political acumen and leadership skills have been sharpened by the Duterte family’s tradition of working in the government and serving the people. Before politics, Sara had a brief stint as a Court Attorney in the Supreme Court of the Philippines in 2006. She then served as Vice Mayor from 2007 to 2010 and was elected Mayor in 2010.
Although a newcomer in 2007, Sara demonstrated transformational leadership skills among the members of the City Council. Her landmark project while serving as Vice Mayor was ‘Inday Para sa Barangay’, a whole-of-government approach to service every year in each of the 182 barangays of the city. It is now called the Caravan of Government Services when she moved to the City Mayor’s Office. During her term as mayor, the timeless Davao Life is Here brand was created. It propelled Davao City’s image as a desired market and destination for investment and tourism events, including the Meetings, Incentives, Conference, Exhibitions market.
As a neophyte Mayor in 2010, she was appointed as Chairperson of the Regional Development Council (RDC). The RDC under her leadership made notable accomplishments that propelled the region. During her first full year as RDC chairperson, Davao Region’s Gross Regional Domestic Product expanded from 3.9 percent in 2011 to 7.1 percent in 2012.
Under Sara’s leadership, Davao City soared to greater heights and emerged as a premier city in Mindanao. For the short period of 2011 to 2013, Davao City received 36 awards, citations, and recognitions for good governance, business, tourism, health, environment, fiscal management, transparency, among others.
Sara served as a regional officer of the National Movement of Young Legislators in 2007- 2010 and served as officer in the National Executive Board of the League of Cities Philippines in 2010-2013.
In 2013, Sara took a respite from politics, devoting her time as one of the partner lawyers of Carpio & Duterte Lawyers. She passed the Pre-Judicature Program of the Philippine Judicial Academy in preparation for her plans to join the judiciary. In 2014,she was elected to the Board of Governors of the Philippine Red Cross.
In 2016, Sara re-entered local politics and ran for mayor. The centerpiece of her mayoral comeback was called Byaheng Do30, a political agenda guided by Thirty Projects for Ten Priority Sectors: Education, Health, Poverty Alleviation, Infrastructure Development, Solid Waste Management and Environment, Agriculture, Investment and Tourism, Traffic and Transportation Management, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, and Peace and Order. As a believer of continuity, Sara’s 2019 mayoral reelection bid was anchored on the 2016 platform, but this time called ‘Byaheng Do30 – The Second Trip’.
Sara relentlessly pursued peace and progress in her administration. As a result, she was able to lift Davao City to a stellar national status with 117 awards, citations, and recognitions from March 2017 to December 2021. Davao City is included on the 2021 Top 10 Richest Cities of the Philippines of the Commission on Audit. And in the same year, Davao City was ranked the 4th Most Competitive Highly Urbanized City by the Department of Trade and Industry.
Sara has been recognized both here and abroad for the work that she has done as local chief executive. In 2012, she was one of the 88 nominees to the prestigious World Mayor Awards — and one of the only two Filipino mayor nominees. In 2021, she was selected as the Philippines’ Top Performing Mayor, with a rating of 93 percent, by an independent and non-commissioned survey of the RP-Mission and Development Foundation Inc.
Her advocacies are reflected in the projects dearest to her — the Peace 911 (a local peace initiative), Magnegosyo Ta ‘Day (a livelihood support project), Pagbabago Campaign, and the Kean Gabriel Hotline (an anonymous reporting platform for abused children).
Sara is an adopted member of the Philippine Military Academy Maharlika Class of 1984 and the Philippine National Police Academy Tagapagkalinga Class of 1991. She is a member of the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Armed Forces of the Philippines Army Reserve Command. She holds the rank of Colonel and is currently the Assistant Brigade Commander of the 2202nd Ready Reserve Combined Arms Brigade, Philippine Army. She has received several medals, ribbons, badges, and citations for her work in Davao in support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Sara is a Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy graduate from the San Pedro College in Davao City. She received her Juris Doctor degree from the San Sebastian College – Recoletos in the City of Manila. She was presented as one of the 30 Most Outstanding St. Augustine Awardees of San Sebastian in January 2014 and was granted by the San Sebastian College of Law the Distinguished Alumna Award for public service in February 2020. She also received the Distinguished Woman of Service Award from the San Beda College Alumni Association in February 2011. Sara spent four years of law school at the San Beda and her final year in San Sebastian.
Sara is a graduate in 2011 of the twin program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Command and General Staff College – General Staff Course and the Development Academy of the Philippines – Master of Public Management.
She is married to fellow lawyer Manases Reyes Carpio and they have three children named Shark, Stingray, and Stonefish.
Reference: Office of the Vice President