More changes seen in selection of Duterte Cabinet

DAVAO CITY — The incoming adminisration of presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte continues to take shape as more personalities are expected to come out in the coming days.

In a press conference past midnight Sunday, Duterte said he wants his would-be Cabinet in place when he takes his oath of office.

In selecting his Cabinet, Duterte said he wants to balance it as he pointed out that people must not put color on his policy and decisions on his choices.

“I will not allow anybody to put color on my choices. From now on it will be for the interest of the people that counts,” he said.

Duterte announced he is considering a retired military official to head the Department of National Defense (DND) after Gilbert Teodoro begged off to join the government again as the head of the agency.

Teodoro served as DND secretary during the term of former president and now Pampanga Representative (2nd District) Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and is currently the president of a mining firm.

Duterte also named former Justice Secretary Silvestre Bello III to be his Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and at the same time could be his consultant on the peace process with Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF).

He also picked his national campaign manager and currently Mayor of Maribojoc town in Bohol, Leoncio Evasco, Jr. as Chief of Cabinet; and Ernesto Pernia for the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

It is not sure if Evasco would accept the post considering his earlier statement that he is not eyeing any post as he would rather retire from government.

Evasco was reported to head the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) but he denied he was offered the post.

Duterte is also eyeing retired army general Hermogenes Esperon as his National Security Adviser.

Earlier, Duterte named lawyers Salvador Medialdea as Executive Secretary and Salvador Panelo as chief of the Presidential Communications Group; lawyer Vitaliano Aguirre as secretary of the Department of Justice; Las Piñas Representative-elect Mark Villar as secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH); former Chief Executive Officer and President of the Clark Development Project Arthur Tugade for the Department of Transportation and Communications; Carlos Dominguez for the Department of Finance; Lyceum of the Philippines president Peter Laurel for the Department of Education; former press secretary Jesus Dureza for the peace process but focusing on the Moro group; former Securities and Exchange Commission chief Perfecto Yasay Jr. as acting secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs; Alfonso Cusi for the Department of Energy; Jose Calida as Solicitor General and former North Cotabato governor Manny Piñol as secretary of the Department of Agriculture.

Duterte defended his choices. Duterte said Tugade, who is not a ‘kababayan’, is brilliant and good; Yasay is articulate; Cusi is an organization man and has expertise and credentials to run the government; and Villar as good.

He said he asked Villar to draw him a map where they have property development projects. In those project areas, Villar as DPWH secretary must not build roads and alleys to avoid suspicion.

Duterte said he wants Tugade and Villar to fix their departments which he described as two corrupt organizations in the government.

He has yet to name his choices for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Agrarian Reform and the Social Services, which are reserved for the progressive left and not the communist party, he clarified. DOLE is already for Bello, who was former secretary general for Mindanao of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and after that served the Cabinet of past Presidents Corazon Aquino, Fidel V. Ramos and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Bello also chaired GRP Negotiating Panel for Talks with the CPP/NPA/NDF that sealed the first deal with the communists that is the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL). PNA/northboundasia.com