Government and business circles are now talking about names who could possibly be appointed as members of the Marcos Jr. Cabinet with the one-year ban soon to be lifted on those who ran for public office in 2022.
Among those rumored to be joining the BBM Cabinet are: former National Defense Secretary Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro to be named secretary of National Defense, the same position he had and served quite capably from 2007 to 2009 during the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration.
Gibo ran for the Senate in 2022 but lost. Those who know Gibo consider the new appointment as an excellent choice. President Marcos Jr. named Carlito Galvez as acting DND officer-in-charge.
Another rumored new member of the Cabinet is former Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto who, according to rumors, will replace Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos.
Just where Abalos will get reappointed is subject to speculation since, in my view, Abalos has been doing quite well as DILG secretary.
With the first year of Marcos Jr. coming to a close, the name of Arthur Yap is also being floated around as the next secretary of agriculture to replace President Marcos himself as the new agriculture secretary.
Yap also served quite capably as DA secretary from 2004 to 2005, and again from 2006 to 2007.
The name of Mike Defensor is also rumored to become the new executive secretary of BBM but, many of the government officials I know and among business circles, this could be a controversial appointment since retired Chief Justice Bersamin as “little President” is doing an excellent job.
All these speculations and rumors going around town are the result of the appointment of officers-in-charge at the DND and DOH and the fact that BBM has not appointed a permanent agriculture secretary and having made himself as DA secretary for almost a year already.
Wrong focus in drug war
President Marcos Jr. was correct when he admitted in one of his meetings in Washington the focus during the administration of President Duterte was on the enforcement of the law that brought about abuses which resulted in a lot of extra-judicial killings.
In a speech before the Center for Strategic and International Studies, BBM however was not forthright when he said there were abuses by certain elements in government without directly mentioning the police which was in charge of the Duterte’s war on illegal drugs.
Clearly, the Duterte administration forgot a holistic approach in any war against illegal drugs consists of four elements: prevention, law enforcement, prosecution and rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation, in my view—I had been involved in the rehabilitation of drug users and addicts—consists of half of the problem in illegal drugs for the reason that if there are no drug users and addicts, there is no problem.
It’s a matter of supply and demand, for so long as there are users and addicts, there will always be cartels and syndicates that will supply the demand.
With so much focus on the part of the Duterte administration on the enforcement of the law, abuses by the police took place with as many as over 6,000 killed per official records.
But, unofficial sources and human rights critics of the Duterte administration place those killed at 28,000.
I have said it before that BBM is in the right direction in focusing his war on illegal drugs by telling the young about the consequences of getting involved in illegal drugs.
However, a lot of education campaigns among the youth is urgent since illegal drugs continue to be imported from abroad, either through smuggling or through a corrupt body like Customs.
Just read the newspapers and realize that cartels and syndicates have not discontinued their involvement in the Philippines making it a transshipment point of illegal drugs.
Santa Banana, where do you think all the illegal drugs being seized almost everyday are coming from? From China. At the rate China is smuggling drugs into the Philippines, China need not invade the Philippines.
Unless cartels and syndicates stop smuggling illegal drugs into the country, the problem of illegal drugs will remain a big headache for Marcos Jr., who is already being besieged with so many challenges and problems.
In the meantime, new PNP Chief Benjamin Acorda has ordered PNP intelligence to monitor some 3,000 scalawags out of the 280,000 total police force, most of them involved in the Duterte drug war.
Santa Banana, that’s quite a big number of rogue policemen to have contributed greatly to the loss of faith and confidence of the people in an institution mandated to be the protector of the people and maintain peace and order.
COVID-19 pandemic not over
The World Health Organization may have lifted the global pandemic health emergency, but it is well and good the Department of Health issued a warning that insofar as the Philippines is concerned, the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over.
Santa Banana, we Filipinos should not be too complacent about an unseen enemy that can’t seem to go away!
The fact that the WHO has lifted the global emergency on the pandemic cannot be taken for granted, given the current medical bulletin in the Philippines.
Even now, there is a surge of COVID-19 cases filling up the pandemic wards of hospitals nationwide, especially in the National Capital Region.
Blame that on the recent Holy Week observance which most people took advantage of for reunions with their families, going to beaches and crowding churches, and people now have greater mobility, often unmasking themselves in shopping malls and in restaurants.
The alarm signal on COVID-19 may not yet be called, but there is need for the people to be cautious.
In the meantime, it would do well for the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases) to come up with guidelines for the DOH to implement nationwide.
I am not an alarmist, at my age highly susceptible for infection and transmission of infectious diseases like the COVID-19, but my wife and I are always on the side of caution.
The DOH officer-in-charge has reminded the public to remain vigilant and continue using multiple layers of protection such as wearing face masks, isolating themselves when sick, getting vaccinated and boosted, since the country is now seeing the rise of COVID-19 cases.
On the other side of the coin, when we look at our hospitals and see them filling up with COVID-19 cases, we realize COVID-19 cases are on the uptick.
The latest infection to watch for is the XBB.1.16, the subvariant called ARCTURUS which is very transmissible.
While only one case of ARCTURUS has been detected , it could easily speed up. We cannot be too complacent. Caution is necessary.