DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /03 June) – Five more names have been added to the official family of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte who, according to his Executive Assistant, might serve in a concurrent capacity as Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) until he finds the right person for the job.
Of the five, two are from the military, one from the militant left, one from the media and the fifth is Duterte’s Executive Assistant, Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, who has been designated Special Assistant to the President with general supervision over the Presidential Management Staff (PMS).
Go told reporters after Duterte’s press conference late Thursday night that the department with the most number of aspirants for the top post is Tourism. He said there are about 10 aspirants.
Asked who are being considered for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Go replied: “parang siya man ang maghawak” (he might head it) in a concurrent capacity, until somebody is named to the post.
Several Philippine Presidents have at one point in their terms served in concurrent capacities as Secretary of National Defense or as Secretary of Interior and Local Governments, including outgoing President Benigno Simeon Aquino III who served as Local Governments Secretary in the first week of his administration, until he named Jesse Robredo to the post on July 9, 2010.
Duterte had earlier offered the DENR post as well as the Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Social Welfare and Development and Department of Agrarian Reform to the Communist Party of the Philippines “if they decide to join my government.”
Duterte named Silvestre Bello III, whom he had earlier named as chief negotiator in the peace process with the National Democratic Front, to also head the Department of Labor.
In his presentation of new Cabinet members on May 30, Duterte announced, among others, Rafael Mariano as DAR Secretary and Judy Taguiwalo as DSWD Secretary.
Last week, Duterte changed his mind about giving the DENR post to the Left, explaining to reporters in a midnight conference that there are serious problems particularly on mining that would require the active role of the military.
Aside from Go, Duterte also announced that retired General Eduardo del Rosario will be chief of the Civil, Veterans, and Retirees Affairs of the Department of National Defense..
Del Rosario served as Task Force Davao chief when it was activated after the airport and seaport bombings in 2003 until 2006 and was Executive Director of the Risk Reduction and Management Council from February 2013 to April 2014.
“He is a very good officer. Mabait yan. Di yan kagaya ng mayor ng Davao. Di yan nagmumura (He’s good. He’s not like the mayor of Davao. He does not curse). So you can rest easy. We are in safe hands,” Duterte said.
To head what Duterte refered to as “graft-ridden” Land Transportation Office, will be retired General Edgar Galvante.
“I need a military man to instill discipline and if he wants kick the ass of those who are not really supposed to be there and deserving of their office,” he added.
Galvante had previously served as a regional commander in Davao and was OIC of the Dangerous Drugs Board from October 2004 to January 2005 and Undersecretary there from 2006 to 2012.
Duterte named Marin Andanar, news anchor of Aksyon TV 5, as chief of the Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO), the post currently held by Secretary Sonny Coloma.
“But the spokesman remains. Sal Panelo. Many of the guys there in Manila also do not like him. Well, I said, Sal Panelo had been a good friend of mine for the longest time. As far as I am concerned, he is honest, he can talk, maybe he is also abrasive in his language at times, but that is the nature of a person. You cannot change him. Just like me,” Duterte added.
He also presented former Anakpawis partylist Rep. Joel Maglungsod (2007 to 2010) as Labor Undersecretary. “ He belongs to the left .He once upon a time went to the mountains to be a cadre. Umakyat sa bukid as cadre sa NPA (New People’s Army),” he said.
Duterte said his government is a mixed lot. “Then I have to appoint the Moro people (to) a Cabinet level. I’m just waiting for some dynamics to be solved in their respective areas.” He did not elaborate.
He said it has not been easy as he had to review every night and pore over the qualifications “just to make sure na hindi ako mapahiya and I do not end up appointing a son of a bitch.”
No post for VP Leni
Duterte has remained firm in not offering a Cabinet position to Vice President Leni Robredo, who was recommended by Ernesto Pernia, his designated Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority.
Pernia told the ABS-CBN News Channel’s Headstart on Thursday that he finds Robredo, a lawyer who finished AB Economics at the University of the Philippines as the “most suitable” for the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC).
But Duterte said he was reserving the post for the Left. “I am willing to concede NAPC to a woman coming from the Left.”
The President-elect has presented a total of 37 members of his official family since May 16 but he has yet to name the Secretaries of the Health, Environment, Tourism and Trade and Industry.
He mentioned a young executive based in the United States who was coming home to join his team but did not name the person and did not say for what post. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)