PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte appointed on Wednesday close ally Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano as the next secretary of Foreign Affairs, and vowed to name Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Año as the next Interior secretary.
Duterte signed Cayetano’s appointment paper before leaving for Cambodia, just as the one-year ban on appointing losing election candidates ended. The senator was Duterte’s running mate in last year’s presidential race.
Duterte earlier assigned Undersecretary Enrique Manalo as acting secretary after the Commission on Appointments rejected the ad interim appointment of Perfecto Yasay Jr. over citizenship questions.
Cayetano is in Geneva, Switzerland, to defend Duterte’s war on illegal drugs before the United Nations.
Accepting the Foreign Affairs portfolio means Cayetano will have to abandon his Senate seat four years into his term. Cayetano succeeded in his Senate re-election bid in 2013, which means his six-year term as senator will end in 2019.
Duterte also told reporters he would appoint Año as Interior and Local Government secretary after his term as military chief ends in October.
In a news conference at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 in Pasay City, Duterte called Año and introduced him as the next chief of Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
“You really want to know, who’s the next? May I call upon the chief of staff? General Año… Can you come forward and be counted as one of the Filipinos…You are now facing the next DILG secretary,” the President told reporters.
Año will take over from acting DILG chief Catalino Cuy, who was appointed after the President fired Ismael Sueno in April over allegations of irregularity in a deal on firetrucks with an Austrian company. Despite the flap, the firetruck deal will proceed, the Palace later said.
Duterte’s announcement ended speculation that former senator and losing vice presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. would be the next DILG head.
Año, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1983, will serve as Armed Forces chief until October 26 this year.
“I want him to complete [his term]because there are projects. At this time, you cannot just pull out somebody from the Armed Forces, especially those who are tasked of programming what will happen next,” Duterte said.
The President said he chose a military officer for a job that oversees the Philippine National Police, to deal with corrupt law enforcers.
“These policemen are really sons of bitches. So you need one, somebody, who knows the police by the fingertips of his hand. Kailangan `yan [That’s needed],” he said, referring to Año.
Año had served as chief of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division. He also became the head of AFP’s Intelligence Service when top communist leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon were arrested in March 2014.
Año will be added to the growing list of military men tapped by the President to hold key positions in government.
The President recently appointed retired general Roy Cimatu to lead the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, replacing the controversial Regina Lopez, who was also rejected by the Commission on Appointments because of her mining crackdown.
Other former generals in the Cabinet are Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon.