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Rody’s nominees come under fire

DAVAO CITY—Contrary to the perception that he wanted to corner some appointments to the incoming administration, the camp of Christian evangelist Apollo Quiboloy questioned on Saturday the appointments that have so far been made by his long-time friend, President-in-waiting Rodrigo Duterte.

“We’re not saying that we’re against their appointments but why them? There should be an explanation,” Quiboloy’s spokesperson Mike Abe told The Standard in an interview. “If the pastor is part of the process, he would be asking why and there won’t be any questions left.”

“That’s the question of the pastor,” Abe said. “The pastor said, for the change that this country needs, it’s the question you need to answer.’’ 

“There are millions of people who want change, while the President has all the power to place people in his Cabinet. But these are sensitive positions,” Abe quoted the pastor as saying.’’

Hot seats. Not even sworn into office by the incoming Duterte administration, prospective Cabinet members Salvador Panelo (left), named press secretary and presidential spokesman, and Mark Villar, designated public works secretary, are already being questioned by various quarters.
Abe did not identify whose appointments they were questioning but maintained that their desire to be part of the selection process was not based on a desire to have some nominee included in the incoming Duterte administration.

“It’s different,” Abe insisted, “unlike those people falling in line to see the [incoming] President as ‘well-wishers’ but actually want positions in the government.” 

“Even before, the pastor did not ask for favors nor sought any audience with the mayor,” Abe said, insisting that they were only after the success of the Duterte administration. “We will just continue his promise to help him in any way possible.”

The Duterte camp claimed on Friday that there were already talks between Quiboloy and Duterte to thresh out the matter, but Abe said Duterte’s aides made no such attempt.

“There’s no meeting whatsoever, that’s not true. There’s no attempt from the camp of presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte,” he said.

Abe had earlier admitted that Quiboloy felt excluded in the selection process, particularly after the announcement of the appointments of Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar as secretary of public works and lawyer Salvador Panelo as press secretary.

Criticism of Villar’s appointment stemmed from the fact that his family was involved in real estate while Panelo’s was questioned because he once represented one of the suspected masterminds of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre of 58 people, including 32 media workers.

Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said Villar, who was just reelected Las Piñas congressman, should first be sworn in as representative and then resign from the post if he wants to accept the Cabinet position. Otherwise, he will violate the  appointments of newly-elected officials to executive posts and could face up to six months in prison as punishment.

But Panelo urged critics to respect the presumptive president’s choice of people who will form his Cabinet because they all “passed” qualifications required of Cabinet members.

“Let’s trust and respect the choices of President-elect Duterte. Do not worry because the mayor had already seen the worries and repercussions,” Panelo told The Standard. “Let us not indulge in unfair speculations on the appointees of Mayor Duterte.” 

But a source inside the Duterte camp admitted that there were problems in the selection process because of the different competing groups within the Duterte camp.  

“Depending on your level of access, you can get appointed to a position. But others are kept at the gate,” the source said.

In one instance, he said one applicant was given a key position “just because he’s being lobbied by a Manila politician close to the mayor.”

But Peter Laviña, the transition team spokesperson, said the selection process includes passing names to people who know of their qualifications, but another source said some appointments were made at the say-so of a third party without regard for their qualifications.

Aside from particular Cabinet appointments, Duterte’s decision to offer the Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Labor and Employment and Department of Social Welfare and Development to the Communist Party of the Philippines has also drawn negative reaction from critics.

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , Apollo Quiboloy , appointments
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