Wanted: devil’s advocates to help in selection of Duterte’s Cabinet

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/14 May) — The Transition Team of presumptive President-elect Rodrigo R. Duterte wants some “devil’s advocates” in the Search and Selection Cluster who will speak for and against the list of personalities being recommended to head key government posts.

A devil’s advocate expresses opinions contrary to the others’ to ensure an interesting discussion on the issue or a person being deliberated on.

Laviña told a press briefing at the Marco Polo Hotel here Friday that they want to ensure that the best of the lot will be appointed by the Duterte.

Peter Lavina, member of the Transition Committee's Search and Selection Committee and spokesperson of presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte at the press conference on Friday, May 13. MindaNews photo by ANTONIO L. COLINA IV Peter Lavina, member of the Transition Committee’s Search and Selection Committee and spokesperson of presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte tells a press conference on Friday, May 13 that they want devil’s advocates to help them select the President’s key officials.  MindaNews photo by ANTONIO L. COLINA IV

The Search and Selection Cluster also wants to make sure that the appointees have a “shared vision, integrity, ability and personal sacrifice.”

The cluster is composed of Maribojoc Mayor Leoncio “Jun” Evasco, national campaign manager who will head the cluster on Social Services and Development, Duterte’s Exectuive Asisstant Christopher “Bong” Go for Security and Peace and Order, businessman Carlos Dominguez for Economic Development, lawyer Salvador Medialdea for the Judiciary, Duterte Media Team head and spokesperson Peter T. Laviña for Infrastructure Development, and lawyer Loreato C. Ata for government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs).

“Within our group, we have an ongoing discussion on the vetting and selecting. When the name comes up, we try to raise issues for and against. We select the best before we subject them to the approval of the presumptive President,” Laviña said.

He added that they have been receiving applications via e-mail and suggestions of personalities that should take a possible seat in the Duterte Cabinet.

“Some have even submitted full bio-data, presented their curriculum vitae and programs and plans for the incoming administration. We are receiving mails via LBC. We are receiving from everywhere, from ordinary citizens who are suggesting personalities but most of them I am not familiar (with)” he said.

Laviña added that they are giving those suggested personalities a fair shake and will have them checked, validated, and vetted for proper recommendation by the cluster.

He said complete list of cabinet secretaries, undersecretaries, and assistant secretaries for the 17 Cabinet offices will be finalized before June 30, 2016.

June 30 is when Duterte takes his oath as the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines and the first Mindanawon to lead the country.

He said they will submit at least three personalities in the shortlist to the presumptive President and it’s up to him who he will he pick up to join his Cabinet.

“But we have to understand that the mayor might have someone in mind already for that position,” he said.

Dominguez said they wanted to make sure that the new administration is fully staffed with qualified personalities.

The Duterte’s search and selection committee is also considering to retain some of the outgoing Cabinet members of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III but “they will be subject to the vetting process,” he said.

He said whoever wins the vice presidency between Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Rep. Leni Robredo is already assured of a Cabinet seat.

“The mayor is very generous and he can work with anyone. Depending on the wish, it will be up to the incoming vice president what will he/she want to head,” he said. (Antonio Colina IV / MindaNews)

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    FROM ASIA’S bright star to the region’s RISING star- who wouldn’t want that? With the prospect of prolonged stagnation on the global scene, the United Nations is wary of member States making do with interrupted growth prospects in their respective economies. YET the Philippines is seemingly poised for a SUSTAINED gross domestic growth pattern that other Asian countries have found rather DIFFICULT to do in the short and medium term. What gives? Will our presumptive President DU30 do BETTER?

    THIS nagging question is rather HAZY at best PRIOR to the OVERWHELMING victory of President-elect DU30. The spectre of reverse economic prosperity ACTUALLY spooked the market for a while as the investment community remained cautious about the conduct of the national elections. But with less that 5% of the total voters’ turn-out already counted, the emergence of a clear winner in the feisty mayor from the South SPURRED a rally in the bourse with at least 2.6% in over three succeeding months while the national currency stabilizes at P46.72 against the almighty dollar. The amount itself is 1% higher than its former value for the entire period of the campaign.

    EVEN the rating agency Fitch affirmed the positive ‘BBB’ credit mark for the Philippines with a standing challenge to the incoming administration to at least sustain the governance initiatives set by Pres. BS Aquino. Concededly the 6.2% average growth rate remains to be the fastest since the 70s, the proverbial gold standard that President-elect DU30 has to maintain, if not SURPASS, in the next six years. Yet again, the overriding question remains: Can President-elect DU30 do it? I’m taking the affirmative stand; so YES – he can! It DOESN’T take a Nostradamus to PREDICT what his broad-based coalition government can and cannot do. Here is how the incoming president’s SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC economic framework can achieve his STRONG visions for the country:

    AT the outset, the neo-liberal economic policies of the current administration seem headed for a long haul. They are here to stay, whether we like it or not. The prospective Finance Secretary Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez III yesterday gave us a glimpse of a DU30 administration’s business plan which CONSPICUOUSLY asserts the retention of the macroeconomic fundamentals of the past four presidents since President Fidel V. Ramos. That fact alone SHOULD put the business community AT EASE over the unfounded prospect of a SOCIALIST blue-print to revamp the liberal capitalist orientation of our economy. But that’s only the TIP of the iceberg. What underpins the presumptive president’s economic policies is the REVITALIZATION of the present economic perspective to FINALLY spawn the much-awaited TRICKLE-DOWN redistributive effects to the social middle classes down to the unwashed proletarian majority WHO actually brought down the highly ELITIST approach of the ruling administration.

    THE broad parameter yet to be established is the STRENGTHENING of investment climate in the country. Making it conducive no longer offers sufficient incentives to foreign direct investments (FDIs) BUT actually getting them in does! For a start, President-elect DU30 intends to RECALIBRATE the effective tax rates of the country vis-a-vis the current inflation level. The immediate effects may be felt after the passage of a modified tax law which had not been reviewed since 1997. Ultimately, however, both individual as well as corporate tax payers will stand to benefit from the said tax reform as it allows for more disposable income in their pockets. Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara had actually proposed a tax reform bill in the Senate but Pres. Aquino seemed lukewarm to the concept. He thumbed it down and sought for its further review instead.

    APART from limiting tax burdens, President-elect DU30 also bats for ease of doing business to make it probably at par with Singapore. So far, the Omnibus Investment Code and other investment laws really have to be reviewed to attract more FDIs, especially with the prospect of declogging infrastructure-related projects under the PPP regime. Apparently this is a pressing matter to be looked into by the incoming government to ensure that pending contracts for big-ticket projects are either approved or rolled out immediately to avoid analysis-paralysis that had been the beef against Pres. Aquino. Coupled with the issuance of an executive order on FULL DISCLOSURE and PUBLIC ACCESS to information on practically ALL government-related transactions upon his assumption to office, public sector corruption MAY yet be abated, if not totally contained. Transparency International’s country CPI must register an improvement as well to further attract more foreign investments and inculcate CLEAN governance among top-level bureaucratic functionaries.

    SO FAR, these are the macro policy initiatives that President-elect DU30 can immediately set in place once he assumes power. On the other hand, the SOCIAL component of his policies provides the HEART of his liberal economic ideals. There had been CLEAR and POSITIVE indications of these populist initiatives since the inception of his campaign advocacies that well resonate across the country. For instance, the agriculture sector HAS to be given enough impetus to grow in terms of its productive capacity. An import-led economy requires a balancing act to spur the export industry, sustain our balance of trade payments and level up our dollar earnings. President-elect DU30’s priority in the largely neglected sector necessitates SUFFICIENT funding for the farm producers across ALL regions as he repeatedly promised during the campaign. His concept of cooperatives ventures among farmers is an idea whose time has come. The landless peasants must HAVE a voice in charting their own economic destinies!

    RELATIVE thereof is the emancipation of the indigenous cultural communities from institutional neglect. The IPRA Law of 1997 should be revisited to thresh out concerns among the natives on land tenure and ownership. Despite the affirmation of the Supreme Court ruling in Cruz v. DENR (2001), the economic benefits accrued from their ancestral lands remain vague IF ranged against foreign-led infrastructure projects within their ancestral domain. This, too, must be counter-checked from the existing investment policies of the government which ACTUALLY put in jeopardy the ancestral domain rights of our cultural minorities. To date, the distribution of lands according to the CARP of Pres. Corazon Aquino has not been fully carried out due to some contentious legal claims filed by the original landowning “barons” in the courts. Agrarian injustice foments insurgency in the countryside and thus must be attended to by the government.

    THE expansion of the CCT for those who live outside the fringes of our society IS a welcome prospect in the new administration. It, together with accessible healthcare privileges, may appear as a palliative measure BUT at least the redistributive benefits can be instantly availed by the marginalized sectors. A government with the highest welfare of the people at heart SHOULD not hesitate to allocate resources that would UPLIFT the plight of the mass poor. This likewise complements the thrust of the presumptive president to RETOOL the basic and tertiary education sector. It’s high time to demand from our young students to stay in school and to learn the fundamental rudiments of knowledge for enhanced viability of their economic future. The Singapore education model SHOULD be taken as a guide to build a strong nation of learners who, in turn, will serve as vital cogs in RESTRUCTURING a meritocratic society of highly skilled and learned citizens.

    THE social amelioration program of President-elect DU30 in the tertiary education front should also COMPLEMENT the local government units’ drive to expand the coverage of local scholarships among public universities. Former UP Pres. Jose Abueva’s STFAP program in campus may well serve as the initial blue-print to make QUALITY education ACCESSIBLE and AFFORDABLE to all university scholars. The Iskolar ng Bayan law of Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano is an excellent take-off point, too, towards the expansion of academic scholarships among poor but deserving college-bound students.

    DURING yesterday’s press conference baring the 8-Point Economic Agenda of President-elect DU30, there have been insidious voices in the sidelines claiming that his economic thrust and policies are MORE of the same relative to the incumbent. So where is CHANGE, they asked. For the uninitiated, there appears NO salient point of differences between the out-going and the incoming president. BUT for the truly concerned STAKEHOLDERS in the nation’s rebirth, the CHANGE lies not on how government FIX the policies that proved relevant and worthy to be retained but on how the low-lying FRUITS of economic prosperity FEED the hungry mouths of the poor!

    WITH social peace built upon minimized corruption and crime, RAINBOW of opportunities will truly shine brightly in our land. President-elect DU30’s sincerity to achieve it will ACTUALLY draw the insurgents and the Islamic fundamentalist rebels back to the negotiating table and once and for all REINTEGRATE into the country’s new social democratic paradigm. For relative peace to reign, a just BUT iron-fisted president MUST instil societal discipline and meritocracy. These can never be attained IF the criminal recidivists continue to sow fear & hungry stomachs lead a life of crime in drugs, kidnapping and murder.

    AND finally with a highly conducive climate for business, capital investments will be sustained not only in the service, electronics and manufacturing sectors BUT in agriculture as well. An agrarian-based economy can NEVER take off to a higher plane of progress IF its mainstream sector is left behind. There has to be a way to TRICKLE down the benefits of a stable domestic economic growth amid UN’s downcast prognosis of stagnation. BUT certainly, with the overwhelming electoral mandate reposed upon him, President DU30 will roll up his sleeves at once to ensure that his huge political capital WON’T just be needlessly squandered throughout his term. So best wishes to you, Mr. President! As law-abiding citizens, the Filipino people are behind you EVERY step of the way!


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