Lorenzana stays as Defense Secretary; Duterte still scouting for Ambassador to US

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/25 August) – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana will remain in his post and not return to the United States as the Philippines’ Ambassador there, President Rodrigo Duterte said in a midnight press conference.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. Photo courtesy of DND website
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. Photo courtesy of DND website

“Gusto niya dito sa Pilipinas na lang,” (He wants to remain in the Philippines), the President said, adding, “so he stays.”

Duterte made the clarification after he again offered the Defense Secretary post to Gilbert Teodoro, in his speech during the oath-taking of newly-appointed Generals and Flag Officers at the Rizal Hall in Malacañan Palace on August 23.

Teodoro, who had served as Defense Secretary under the Arroyo administration and who ran for the Presidency in 2010 but lost to Benigno Simeon Aquino III, had declined Duterte’s offer in May and again declined the recent offer.

Duterte told the generals that in the Cabinet meeting the previous day, they discussed who was going to be sent as ambassador to a country he did not name then. “Mukhang apurado na ang ano who’s the next ambassador,” he said.

The “ano” he referred to on August 23 he named in his midnight conference: the United States.

Duterte told reporters they were discussing on who should be the Ambassador to the United States during a Cabinet meeting and “I think it was Sonny Dominguez” who pointed to Lorenzana, a retired Major General in the Armed Fordes of the Philippines who had worked at the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC since 2002. Until Duterte named him Defense Secretary.

Duterte said Lorenzana told him that if he orders him to accept the position, he would accept, but expressed his desire to remain in the country.

Lorenzana served as Defense and Armed Forces Attaché of the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC from August 2002 until October 2004 and as Special Representative / Head of the Veterans Affairs from November 2004 to June 2015.

Born in Midsayap, North Cotabato in 1948, Lorenzana grew up in Parang, Maguindanao and first met Duterte when he served as battalion commander of the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion based in Malagos, Davao City from April 1987 to August 1989 when Duterte was OIC Vice Mayor and was elected mayor in 1988. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)