DAVAO CITY—President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has already filled 16 of the 30 Cabinet posts a month before he assumes the presidency, but he has yet to name secretaries to head two key posts—the Defense Department and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
In a radio interview Monday, former national treasurer Leonor Briones said she has accepted Duterte’s invitation to be his Education secretary, heading the biggest department in the bureaucracy.
Briones, who was in Davao City to discuss her appointment with Duterte, said she still needs to ask him if she can retain her posts as chairman of the board of trustees at Siliman University and chairman-designate of the Universidad de Manila.
Duterte earlier said that her first task would be to address the problems caused by the implementation of the K-12 program.
“She’s very quite familiar with the problem that we are facing because of the implementation of K-12. There are lot of students who will be marginalized and a good number of teachers also who lost their positions,” Duterte said.
The incoming president earlier said, he now favors the K-12 program.
Aside from Defense and the DILG, top-level Cabinet posts that have yet to be filled are the departments of Health, Science and Technology, Trade and Industry, Tourism, and Energy, the Commission on Higher Education, the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, and the newly formed Department of Information and Communications Technology.
Acknowledging that the Defense and DILG portfolios were the hardest to fill, Duterte had earlier offered the first to former Defense chief Gilbert Teodoro, who turned down the offer.
Duterte said he has also talked to a retired military man who is in the United States for the Defense post, but is still awaiting his reply.
At the same time, Duterte said he has changed his mind about naming his campaign manager and former Maribojoc mayor Leoncio Evasco as Interior chief.
“I had a change of mind, Evasco is a former rebel soldier, a political prisoner and he will head the police. The police may not follow his orders,” Duterte said.
Evasco instead will be offered the post of Cabinet secretary.
Duterte said he wanted Health and Science and Technology to be headed by career officials.
Other vacancies are the head of the Presidential Management Staff, the Metro Manila Development Authority, the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, the Mindanao Development Authority and the National Anti-Poverty Commission.
Duterte said he will be strict, particularly with corrupt agencies such as the Bureau of Customs, the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Land Transportation Office, which he said would be assigned to former military men.
He said he had offered the BIR to one of the most honest men he knew—Rear Admiral Guillermo—but he turned down the job.
Duterte’s personal lawyer, Salvador Medialdea, will serve as the incoming president’s executive secretary and is part of the transition team.
Medialdea previously served under the Estrada administration as undersecretary in the Office of the Presidential Adviser for Political Affairs.
Duterte’s long-time confidante, Salvador Panelo, has been designated as press secretary, replacing the three-headed communications group under the Aquino administration.
Panelo’s appointment was criticized by members of the press, because he was the lawyer of the Ampatuan clan, which was accused of the Maguindanao Massacre in which more than 30 journalists were killed.
In response, Duterte said Panelo’s appointment would be “temporary.”
Others named to the Duterte Cabinet are:
Carlos Dominguez III, former Agriculture secretary, to head the Finance Department;
Former Budget secretary Benjamin Diokno to the same post;
Ernesto Pernia of the UP School of Economics, to head the National Economic and Development Authority;
Former Justice secretary Silvestre Bello III, Labor and Employment;
Former Press secretary Jesus Dureza to head the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process;
Former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Perfecto Yasay Jr. as acting Foreign Affairs secretary;
Duterte’s law school fraternity brother, Vitaliano Aguirre II, as Justice secretary;
Former North Cotabato governor Emmanuel Piñol, Agriculture secretary;
Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar, Public Works and Highways;
Former lawmaker and peasant leader Rafael Mariano, Agrarian Reform;
Former Clark Development Corp. President Arthur Tugade, Department of Transportation; and
Former Armed Forces chief Hermogenes Esperon as National Security Adviser
Both Yasay and Aguirre were dorm mates of Duterte at the YMCA hostel in Manila while they were studying.
The incoming president said he will also appoint former Immigration chief Andrea Domingo as head of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation and Jose Calida as Solicitor-General.
Duterte earlier offered four Cabinet positions to the Communist Party of the Philippines—Agrarian Reform, Environment and Natural Resources, Labor and Employment and Social Welfare and Development.
But Bello has already been named to Labor.
On Monday, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, president of Duterte’s PDP-Laban, said the list of Cabinet members may yet change.
“[Duterte] is just getting the feedback from the public and if he sees that a potential Cabinet member is too controversial or doesn’t sit well with the people it is possible that the president will replace that individual before June 30,” Pimentel said.
He added that the PDP-Laban has made some recommendations to Duterte, but the final decision will be made by the incoming president.
“We as part of the party suggest names for Duterte to consider, but the president is not bound by our suggestions,” he said.
In Cebu, 12 district and provincial political officers expressed strong opposition to the appointment of Cebu businessman Michael Lloyd Dino as presidential assistant for the Visayas.
Citing conflict of interest, lawyer Rex Fernandez said Dino cannot rightly represent the Visayas group because he is the executive vice president of Fifth Avenue Property Development Corp., the supposed partner of the Cebu provincial government in undertaking the Ciudad Project in Barangay Apas, Cebu City that was shelved because of traffic problems. With Junex Doronio
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