A day after not gracing with his presence his proclamation in Manila as the duly elected President of the Philippines – something he has been known to do even in past proclamations to new governmental positions – President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has announced a greater part of his prospective appointments to his cabinet upon taking office in June 30.
In an evening press conference held at the Department of Social Welfare and Development guesthouse in Panacan, Davao City, referred to by Philippine media networks as the “Malacañang of the South”, Duterte related that after an earlier three-hour meeting with his transition team and several of his incoming cabinet members, he was ready to publicly reveal who he has chosen to head his executive departments and other important agencies, which he could personally vouched for as not being “tainted” with corruption. It was also a very good reason for him not to show at his proclamation as the formation of his cabinet was deemed more important.
Under the Office of the President, Duterte has named Salvador Medialdea as Executive Secretary, Salvador Panelo as Pres. Spokesman, Jesus Dureza as the Advisor on the Peace Process, and retired AFP chief of staff Hermogenes Esperon as National Security Advisor.
Included on the list are former South Cotabato Governor Mike Sueño as Secretary of the Interior and Local Government, incumbent DOST undersecretary Fortunato dela Peña as new Secretary, retired Major Delfin Lorenzana as Defense Secretary, Anakpawis Rep Rafael Mariano for Agrarian Reform and Judy Taguiwalo for Social Welfare – both recommended by the leftist National Democratic Front for Duterte’s “inclusive government).
Other departmental secretary positions filled were Emmanuel Piñol (Agriculture), Benjamin Diokno (Budget), former national treasurer Leonor Briones (Education), Alfonso Cusi (Energy), Carlos Dominguez III (Finance), Perfecto Yasay Jr. (Foreign Affairs), Vitaliano Aguirre (Justice), Silvestre Bello III (Labor), Mark Villar (Public Works), and Arthur Tugade (Transprtation). No one has yet been named to other departments such as Health, Tourism and Trade.
For non-departmental agencies, Duterte has called on some retired police officials like former PNP director Isidro Lapeña (PDEA), former NCRPO director Edgar Galvante (LTO), NBI Davao Regional Director Dante Gierran as the new agency chief, and former Davao City Police Chief Jaime Morente to the Bureau of Immigration. Former military personnel also get some prime cabinet spots like retired Army Brig. General Ricardo Jalad for the NDRRMC and even notorious rebel Marine Capt. Nicanor Faeldon for the Bureau of Customs.
Asked about some of his more unorthodox appointments, Duterte explains that the formation of a Presidential Cabinet was no simple job, comparing it to the story of a man carrying a burning torch during the day; when asked by someone why he was carrying a lit torch during the day when he can see everything, the man simply remarked that he “was looking for someone honest”, like the other man who asked him the question. The “inclusivity” of his government was also such that in addition to the communists he was considering someone from the Moro sector for a Cabinet posting.
The outgoing Davao City Mayor and President-elect also made several comments on what a Duterte administration would be like. As expected, he would be very heartless when it comes to stamping out corruption in government agencies, owing it to the 16 million or so Filipinos who voted for him, “a city mayor from Mindanao” to clean up the country. But he will also leave his appointees to do their work in peace with minimal to no interference on his part.
As for the moment, Duterte has no inkling as to what cabinet appointment he might give to Vice President-elect Leni Robredo, as he had been expecting to work with Robredo’s closest competition in the polls – Senator Ferdinand “BongBong” Marcos. He does not however rule out the possibility for Robredo to receive a posting, but not immediately.
Photo Credit to CNNPhilippines