Evasco named Cabinet Secretary, Bello to DOLE, Pernia to NEDA, Esperon is NSA

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 22 May) – Incoming President Rodrigo Duterte’s top choice for Cabinet Secretary is his national campaign manager, Leoncio Evasco Jr.

Duterte also named early Sunday morning former Justice Secretary Silvestre Bello to head the Department of Labore and Employment (DOLE), Ernesto Pernia, an economics professor, to head the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), former Armed Forces Chief of Staff and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Hermogenes Esperon as national security adviser, and Col. Rolando Bautista as head of Presidential Security Group (PSG).

Leoncio B. Evasco, Jr. Photo from the Maribojoc website Leoncio B. Evasco, Jr. Photo from the Maribojoc website

The Cabinet Secretary provides technical support to the Cabinet, assists in providing timely and organized information to the Cabinet on issues and problems submitted for decision and action; provides conference and administrative support services to the Cabinet, the Cabinet Clusters, the Cabinet Assistance System and other committees created by the Cabinet; and conducts technical research and special studies on specific policy issues.

The Cabinet Secretary also maintains an efficient records-management system, including a Cabinet Archives and a library; certifies Cabinet resolutions that indicate agreements and actions reached during Cabinet meetings.

Evasco, a priest who joined the underground movement from 1974 to 1983, is completing his third term as mayor of Maribojoc in Bohol.

He served as Duterte’s chief of staff and headed several other departments in the city, including the City Engineer’s Office, until he left for his hometown to run for mayor.

Before Duterte’s announcement, some members of the Davao media held a teleconference Saturday evening with Evasco, who was in Bohol, to clarify reports on heading the Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG).

“Tan-awon kung unsay istorya ni Digong ani. Unang-una wala man gyud istoryaha, daan man pud ko ingon sa sugod nga dili lage ko mangayo og cabinet position (Let’s just see what Digong would say. First of all, it was not talked about but I already said from the very start that I will not ask for any Cabinet position),” he said

On the criticisms directed at Duterte’s appointees, Evasco added they must respect Duterte’s decision on choosing officials who will run the government.

“We should respect that, respetahan nato na si Digong ana. Iyaha nang prerogative kung kinsa gusto kung kinsa makatabang niya sa pagdumala sa nasud karon. (We should respect Digong’s decision. That’s his prerogative to choose people whom he thinks can help him run the government),” he said.

Atty. Silvestre Bello, who was earlier named by Duterte to be the chair of the peace panel that will negotiate with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), will take the helm of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Bello had served as Justice Secretary in the Aquino and Ramos administrations.

Duterte on Monday offered the Communist Party of the Philippines “if they decide to join my government” are the departments of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and DOLE.

Ernesto Pernia, an economics professor, will head the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), Col. Rolando Bautista as head of Presidential Security Group (PSG), and Hermogenes Esperon, his national security adviser.

Former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, who served under former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, reportedly declined the offer to return to head the same department.

In a Facebook post, former Local Governmetns Secretary Rafael Alunan III quoted a text message from Teodoro which states: “I have not declined the offer of the President-elect to serve as Defense Secretary. The importance of the position to the National Interest requires no less than serious consultation especially with the President-elect before accepting such in order to ensure that a prospective Secretary is the right choice.”

Last Friday, Alfonso Cusi was named Department of Energy and Jose Candida as Solicitor General.

“Cusi is an organization man. I think he has edge in so many positions in the government. We just met five times in my life but he has the credentials to run the government,” Duterte said.

His Cabinet will still be incomplete by the time he assumes post by June 30 because appointments will be finished towards the end of July or by August, he said.

Updated list of Duterte’s Cabinet

Here’s the updated list of Duterte’s Cabinet members as of Sunday, May 22:

Leoncio Evasco, Secretary to the Cabinet; Atty. Silvestre Bello, Secretary of Department of Labor and Employment; Ernesto Pernia, chief National Economic and Development Authority; Alfonso Cusi, Department of Energy; Atty. Jose Calida, Solicitor General; Atty. Salvador Panelo to head Malacanang Press and Presidential Spokesperson; Atty. Salvador Medialdea as Executive secretary; former North Cotabato governor Manny Piñol as secretary Department of Agriculture (DA); Peter Laurel, as secretary of Department of Education; Carlos Dominguez as secretary of Department of Finance; Atty. Perfecto Yasay as secretary of Department of Foreign of Affairs; Atty. Vitaliano Aguirre as secretary of Department of Justice; Mark Villar as secretary of Department of Public Works and Highways; and Arthur Tugade as Department of Transportation and Communication. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)