DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/29 May) – Incoming Rodrigo Duterte asked two non-childhood friends to join his Cabinet as he defended himself from allegations that he is naming only friends and classmates to top government positions when he assumes the post on June 30.
Duterte announced in a press conference late Saturday night that he would appoint Benjamin Diokno to head the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and Leonor Briones to the Department of Education (Deped), the position first offered to but declined by Lyceum President Peter Laurel.
Diokno was Budget Secretary while Briones was National Treasure under the administration of Joseph Estrada who was President from June 30, 1998 until his ouster on January 21, 2001.
“Ang mga bago kong appointee hindi ko kababata” (My new appointees are not my childhood friends),” he said.
Incoming president Rodrigo Duterte faces the media Saturday night in Davao City with Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, returning Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza and senator-elect Manny Pacquiao. Mindanews photo by KEITH BACONGCO
Duterte said he is hopeful that Briones, who asked to be given until Tuesday to decide on his offer, would consider as he believes she would address the troubles that the shift to K to 12 will cause to both students and teachers.
“(I chose Briones) because she is quite familiar with the problem because of the implementation of the K to 12, that students will be marginalized students or will not be able to enroll and a good number of teachers also who (will) have lost their positions. So, problema yan,” he said.
As of Saturday night, the Duterte Cabinet, aside from Diokno and Briones, will be composed of the following persons whose names were given out in a series of press conferences starting May 16:
Arthur Tugade as Secretary of Transportation and Communication, Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez, Secretary of Finance; lawyer Perfecto Yasay as acting Foreign Affairs Secretary; lawyer Salvador Medialdea, Executive Secretary; lawyer Salvador Panelo, head of Malacanang Press and Presidential spokesperson; Mark Villar, Public Works and Highways Secretary; former North Cotabato Governor Emmanuel Pinol, Agriculture Secretary; lawyer Vitaliano Aguirre as Justice Secretary; Jose Calida, Solicitor General; Alfono Cusi as Secretary of Energy; Ernesto Pernia, chief of the National Economic and Development Authority; Leoncio Evasco as Secretary to the Cabinet; Silvestre Bello, Secretary of Department of Labor and Employment.
Also on May 16, Duterte offered the Communist Party of the Philippines “if they join my government” four departments – Agrarian Reform, Environment and Natural Resources, Labor and Employment, and Social Welfare and Development.
Dutere dubbed as “stupid allegation” his decision to name only personalities known to him.
He said he believes in the credentials and the capabilities of his appointees.
“Accusation na mga kaklase at kaibigan, that’s a very stupid allegation, or an issue you raised, hindi kami mayaman. You do not appoint somebody you do not trust. You have to know the person long enough to know his character and his capacity and his honesty,” he said.
He said he has not yet considered any Cabinet position for incoming Vice President Leni Robredo as he wants to talk to her first and establish a “good rapport in the meantime.”
“If that’s just opening of opportunity, it would come earlier. It doesn’t meant to say the door is open and there’s already the job waiting. An opportunity or chance maybe we can talk of just having a good rapport in the meantime. Kasi hindi nga kami magkakilala eh” (Because we still don’t know each other), he said.
He reiterated that he would not “be looking beyond my borders yet” and will consider looking for people who “are loyal to me all along.”
He added that he has names of potential choices for the Bureau of Customs, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Land Transportation Office, and Department of National Defense, the position reportedly declined by its former Secretary, Gilberto Teodoro. He said the names will be out by Tuesday. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)