The Cabinet of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte is slowly taking shape as he announced more additions to his soon-to-be official family.
In a news conference past midnight on Sunday, Duterte said he wanted his Cabinet in place when he takes his oath of office on June 30.
The presumptive President, also the incumbent Davao City mayor, named former Justice Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd as secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and at the same time his consultant on the peace process with the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF).
He appointed Ernesto Pernia as chief of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
Duterte’s national campaign manager, Maribojoc town (Bohol) Mayor Leoncio Evasco Jr, will be the Chief of the Cabinet.
There is no certainty, however, that Evasco will accept the post because he earlier said he plans to retire from government service.
Duterte is also eyeing retired Army general Hermogenes Esperon as his National Security Adviser.
He said he is considering a retired military official to head the Department of National Defense (DND) since former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro declined his offer to join the government as the head of the agency.
Earlier, Duterte named Salvador Medialdea as Executive Secretary and Salvador Panelo as chief of the Presidential Communications Group; Vitaliano Aguirre as secretary of the Department of Justice; Las Piñas City (Metro Manila) 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 as chief of the Department of Transportation and Communications; Carlos Dominguez as secretary of Finance; Lyceum of the Philippines president Peter Laurel as Education secretary; former Press secretary Jesus Dureza as head of the peace panel that will tackle the Mindanao peace process; former Securities and Exchange Commission chief Perfecto Yasay Jr. as acting secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs; Alfonso Cusi as Energy secretary; Jose Calida as Solicitor General; and former North Cotabato governor Emmanuel Piñol as secretary of the Department of Agriculture.
His own choice
Duterte defended his choices, noting that nobody influenced him in making his decisions.
Tugade, he said, is brilliant and good; Yasay is articulate; Cusi is an organization man and has expertise and credentials to run the government; and Villar is good.
“I will not allow anybody to put color on my choices. From now on, it will be the interest of the people that counts,” the mayor added.
“I decide for myself. I never consulted anybody.”
“I have been in the government…mayor for 22 years…congressman… vice mayor in 1987. Hindi ako nabobola [No one can fool me], “ he told reporters at his long-time favorite hangout–The Afterdark.
“I decide, I do not take into consideration friendship. I am forced to come with a statement and say to you again my loyalty to you as a friend ends where my loyalty to my country begins,” Duterte said.
The mayor had reserved the Departments of Social Welfare and Development, Labor, Agrarian Reform and Environment to nominees of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Duterte reiterated that he is not a communist.
“I am not a communist. I never said I am a communist, I said I’m a President who comes from the left-left center,” he said.