12 cabinet posts still vacant

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/20 May) – All but 12 cabinet positions under incoming President Rodrigo Duterte have been filled up, Duterte’s spokesperson Peter T. Laviña said Thursday.

The vacant posts include those for the four departments Duterte has offered to the Communist Party of the Philippines. These are the Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Labor and Employment, and Department of Social Welfare and Development.

CPP founding chair Jose Maria Sison has declared in media interviews they were declining the offer.

But in an interview, Laviña said the communists may recommend names from among their allies.

He added they would still have to be vetted by the Search and Selection Cluster of the Transition Committee.

“They will have to go through the same procedures but that would be secondary. The offering of the positions would be necessary to address the internal conflict,” he said.

Laviña said the search for cabinet officials will be completed before June 30, the day Duterte assumes the presidency.

Duterte has already named 11 personalities to the cabinet, many of them his trusted friends and classmates in law school.

The latest was Atty. Vitaliano Aguirre who was informed Wednesday evening at a hotel here that he would succeed Justice Secretary Emmanuel Caparas.

“Medyo hindi ko alam, marami kasing nag-aaspire sa position. I was the one who asked na magkaroon ako ng audience sa kanya ngayon. Hindi ko naman alam na ako ang pipiliin niya,” he said.

Aguirre was Duterte’s classmate at San Beda College. He finished cum laude and the valedictorian in his class.

“All the valedictorian classmates niya will be working for him,” he said.

He vowed to go after the corrupt government officials and clear the jails of drugs.

Lawyer Salvador Panelo, the would-be presidential spokesperson and press secretary, earlier announced that businessman Carlos Dominguez, another close friend of Duterte, had declined the finance secretary post but had “a change of heart” and accepted the position.

Perfecto Yasay, former chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission and a law professor in a university in Hawaii, also visited Duterte Wednesday.

“I just wanted to thank him for appointing me and putting his trust in me. We never talked of anything official as of yet,” he said.

He said he will meet Foreign Affairs acting secretary Jose Rene Almendras next week as well as former DFA secretary Alberto del Rosario to allow for a smooth turnover.

“So, this will give me a better picture of the present situation and we can assess the positions that will be taken and one of the important things in foreign policy is continuity, predictability, always in the national interest. This is what I’d like to do, find out, inquire, we shape policy thereafter,” he said.

Yasay said he believes he was chosen by Duterte because “he has seen something and that we can accomplish for our country and the people.”

On appointing Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano a year after, he said: “That’s not for me to decide. When you are appointed by the president whether it’s important or temporary you serve under his pleasure. After one day, if he doesn’t like you, you have to go.”

“This has already been reserved for Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano. He has good reasons for that. So, let’s take it from there. My job is to do my job properly. I wouldn’t bungle it. But I know that even he has said that I will be in acting capacity for one year. This is a very critical time in our our history,” he said.

Aside from the four department posts offered to the CPP, the Departments of Budget and Management, Energy, Health, Interior and Local Government, Science and Technology, Tourism, Trade and Industry, and the National Economic Development Authority are also still vacant.

Here’s the partial list of Duterte’s cabinet members:

Atty. Salvador Panelo, Presidential Spokesperson and Press secretary

Atty. Salvador Medialdea, Executive secretary

Former North Cotabato governor Manny Piñol, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture

Peter Laurel, Secretary of the Department of Education

Carlos Dominguez, Secretary of the Department of Finance

Atty. Perfecto Yasay, Secretary of the Department of Foreign of Affairs

Atty. Vitaliano Aguirre, Secretary of the Department of Justice

Gilbert Teodoro, Secretary of the Department of National Defense

Mark Villar, Secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways

Arthur Tugade , Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communication

Jesus Dureza, Secretary of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process

Aside form the cabinet appointees, Duterte also named Chief Supt. Ronald Dela Rosa, former director of Davao City Police Office, as head of the Philippine National Police while Andrea Domingo has been named head of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)