DAVAO CITY—Joking that some of the people that he wanted to appoint to his Cabinet were a “little greedy,” President-in-waiting Rodrigo Duterte admitted on Thursday having difficulty filling his Cabinet because of the low-pay of government officials.
“I’ve been scouting for guys to work in government for the last two weeks. They are young men whom I want to pull from the private sector. The problem is, and I hope they won’t get mad, they’re a little greedy: they immediately ask about the salary,” he said, half in jest.
But Duterte said he understood their concerns because his favored candidates are top executives in top corporations and are at the stage in their lives when they have to send children to expensive colleges and maintain higher-level lifestyles.
On the other hand, Duterte said he was impressed by the list of nominees that the communist National Democratic Front of the Philippines submitted through ranking NDF official Fidel Agcaoili on Wednesday.
“The Left gave me a very impressive list of people who have the talent,” Duterte said. “I really do not know if they’d be willing,” he said.
“I am inclined to give in. If we can talk smoothly and Jose Maria Sison would come home in July, I’m ready to give more of them positions in government,” he said, adding that he expected Sison to return to the country in July.
He declined to name the NDF nominees, except to say that they numbered less than 10 and four of them were women.
Agcaoili earlier told The Standard the NDF nominated three people for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Social Welfare and Development and Department of Agrarian Reform and several others for lower positions.
But sources in leftist circles claim that among those recommended by the NDF panel are former Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano for DAR, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate for the DENR, and University of the Philippines professor and Faculty Regent Judy Taguiwalo for the DSWD.
For the interior and defense portfolios, Duterte said he wanted military men who are mature and forward thinking. “I’m still balancing. It has to be somebody not prone to dynamics,” he said.
“If I cannot find one, I’m looking at a civilian whose good in management but has knowledge (of military affairs),” he added.
At the same time, Duterte expressed hope that Mindanao would someday be healed of its sectarian troubles and announced that he would also seek a meeting with Moro National Liberation Front founder Nur Misuari to pursue peace talks and Mindanao development.
Reacting to the claims of Misuari’s emissaries that they were snubbed when they sought and audience with him, Duterte said he did not mean to offend Misuari’s emissaries.
“I really didn’t do that,” he said. “Just to prove a point that I’m really interested. I’ll fly to Jolo and talk to Nur.”
Duterte said that he wished that the infighting between warring groups in Mindanao will soon end by the end of his six-year term.