President Rodrigo Duterte continues to surprise politicos and the public in general with his choices for appointees in his administration. His picks from the wonderful world of show business are not exempted.
Rounding up the popular names, which will now have prefixes other than the kind of talent they are include comedian Arnell Ignacio who is now Assistant Vice President for Community Relations and Service Department of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR); TV journalist Kat de Castro as the Department of Tourism Undersecretary of Media Affairs; singer Jimmy Bondoc as the Assistant Vice President for Entertainment at PAGCOR; and most recently, as reported by Mario Dumaual of ABS-CBN, folk singer Freddie Aguilar as head of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
Those who closely followed the Duterte campaign will know that these celebrities were practically close-ins of then Davao Mayor Digong, traveling with him all over the country, and all the way to his win. Surprised as many may be that the President seems to be giving almost every single showbiz supporter a government post, it will come as no surprise that criticisms on social media over these appointments are well underway.
Basically, the common sentiment of netizens is that the chosen personalities lack experience and that campaigning for Duterte should not have been a basis for their appointment.
“While some of my peers are working their asses off to be doctors/lawyers, @jimmybondoc is PAGCOR AVP,” Twitter user @rizzatweets said.
“Meanwhile someone as unqualified as Arnel Ignacio and Jimmy Bondoc are appointed to PAGCOR. Magpapayaman lang yang mga yan,” @leiron posted on Twitter.
“Sina Arnell Ignacio and Jimmy Bondoc PAGCOR AVPs. Si Kat De Castro naman Usec for Tourism. Bakit si Mocha Uson wala pa? Unfair naman. Lol,” user @paolajashima joked.
Bondoc took to Facebook to announce his appointment and at the same time defend himself from what he seems to know will be a barrage of negative reactions from the public. He assured everyone that although he may or may not be the best man for the job, he is an honest man and he is eager to serve the next generation.
He also acknowledged that there will always be people who will be questioning the credibility of newly-appointed government officials, but the Ateneo de Manila University AB Communications graduate emphasized he knows his craft and the field of entertainment is “God’s gift” to him. He said he will continue to work at improving his skills to run the office assigned to him.
“Soon, I will officially be the AVP for Entertainment for Pagcor, a blessing that the Good Lord has assigned to me through the power of our beloved President…I have already begun working. It’s a 9-6 p.m. job, and I have begun to learn the ropes,” Bondoc wrote.
“I don’t mind people questioning the credentials of some of us appointees. I know that’s part of life. However, I would also like to say that entertainment is God’s gift to me. I know it back and forth, but I am also willing to learn much more these coming years.Natanggap na ako sa Pagcor. Sana matanggap niyo rin ako sa bago kong susubukan,” he added.
“I want to serve the next generation, hoping I can make conditions better for them,” Bondoc continued, declaring that he will never steal money from Pagcor.
“If I ever take money or kickbacks and the like, come to my house and cut off my hands…I may or may not be the best man for the job, but it’s a done deal. Watch me use this money from ‘gaming’ and transform it into awesome shows, livelihood for my beloved musicians and artists, into joy. Just watch, you have my word,” Bondoc concluded in his lengthy post.
The 41-year-old “Let Me Be The One” hitmaker will be replacing Bong Quintana in the said office. Quintana is the long-time partner of Boy Abunda, who is one of Kris Aquino’s best friends, and a staunch supporter of former President Noynoy Aquino.
Besides criticisms over his capability, Bondoc by the way, was also bashed for his awkwardly-worded phrases where he used many idioms in the wrong context, supposedly causing Ateneans in cyberspace much shame.
Meanwhile, television host Arnell Ignacio also took social media to confirm his appointment and shared his plans for his department once he assumes office.
“Pagcor isn’t all about gaming. As the AVP of the Community Relation and Services Department of Pagcor we will be taking massively funded steps to improve health services, comprehensive feeding programs, completion of school buildings etc. No area will be too far from our helping hand,” Ignacio posted on Facebook on July 7.
In another post, the he thanked President Duterte and newly-appointed Pagcor Chairman Andrea Domingo for their trust in him.
“AVP for the Community Relation and services Department. To the President, Chairman Andrea Andrea Domingo and the Filipino people hindi kayo magsisisi. My wholehearted appreciation for the trust you have given me,” he said.
In a previous interview with PEP.ph, Ignacio confirmed that he was offered a post in the government but requested to keep his appointment under wraps until the appointment papers had been finalized.
Based on writer Ronnie Carrasco 3rd’s article in The Manila Times earlier this month, Ignacio seems to be very ready to assume his government post, even physically to look the part as he immediately had a nose job after the elections.
On the other hand, Kat de Castro, daughter of veteran broadcaster and former Vice President Noli de Castro, also thanked the President for appointing her. In an interview with Push.com.ph, De Castro—who used to co-host and produce a travel show for ABS-CBN such as Trip na Trip, shared her plans for the Tourism Department.
According to de Castro she wants the Department of Tourism (DOT) to be “friendlier to millennials.”
“Kasi let’s face it, we need to upgrade some of the ways that we handle our tourism packages and come on, I want to lower down the price when it comes to traveling in the Philippines. For some reason, it’s cheaper to go to Hong Kong than go to Boracay and that is still something that I would like to look to,” she said.
Furthermore, de Castro said she wants to decongest Boracay by encouraging people to visit other beaches in the country.
“Make other people go to other beaches in the Philippines because we’re more than just Boracay and let them go to places like Calaguas, Caramoan, ‘yun. I’m looking forward to that.”
“I’ve been in the travel show industry for a decade now so whatever I learned as a first-hand traveller, i-aapply ko sa DOT,” she added.
Finally, the most recent addition to all that glitters in the Duterte administration is ve-teran singer-songwriter Freddie Aguilar. The man behind the world-renowned hit “Anak” has “agreed” to head the NCCA.
The NCCA by the way is the “overall policymaking body, coordinating-and grants-giving agency for the preservation, development and promotion of Philippine arts and culture.” Moreover, the it is an executing agency for the policies it formulates, and tasked to administer the National Endowment Fund for Culture and the Arts (NEFCA).
The Manila Times on Thursday asked the opinion of several veteran award-winning film directors whether they think Ka Freddie can do all of the above, they replied with a stare.
In any case, in Aguilar’s interview on ABS-CBN, he said he requested the Chief Executive to create a “department for culture and arts” because he wanted a “cultural revolution.”
“Sabi ko, ‘heto lang po ‘yung revolution na walang mamamatay.’ Ang ibig sabihin ko po sa cultural revolution ay pinapangarap ko po na ibalik ‘yung mga talagang Pilipino na pag-uugali natin, pati sining natin, pati panulat natin, ibalik sa atin ‘yun tinanggal sa atin ng mga banyaga,” he said in the interview.
“Pag tinanong mo sila balang araw, hindi na po nila iisipin na ‘taga-Luzon ako, wala akong pakialam sa Visayas.’ ‘Taga-Visayas ako, wala akong pakialam sa Mindanao. Pag nagkaroon po tayo ng cultural revolution, pag sinabi po nating Ilokano, Kapampangan, Bisaya, lahat po ‘yan maninindigan na siya ay Pilipino,” he added.
He said that Duterte’s long-time executive assistant, Christopher “Bong” Go, called him regarding the President’s offer.
“Ang sabi ko,‘Sige po, susubukan kong pamunuan muna ito,” he shared.
“Mahahawakan ko lamang po siya [NCCA] kung tutulungan ako ng lahat. Nandito po si Cesar Montano, nakikita po ninyo si Anthony Castelo. Lahat po ng mga nakausap kong mga nagmamahal sa bayan natin na mga kapatid po natin hindi lang sa trabaho, sa musika kundi po pati ‘yung mga negosyante, nakipag-usap na po ako sa kanila at lahat po sila nakahandang tumulong,” he added.
“Pati po ‘yung mga kababayan nating Pilipino na ipinanganak at lumaki na sa ibang bansa, ‘nung malaman po nila ‘yung hangarin ko, lahat po sila ay sumusumpang tutulong sa ating lahat.”
In a text message to Montano’s manager Shirley Pizarro, The Manila Times asked whether the action star is indeed joining Aguilar in the NCCA. She immediately replied, “No. I don’t think so.”
During the campaign, Aguilar’s song for Duterte was used throughout his sorties, at the mammoth miting de avance at the Luneta Grandstand, and as the only performance during the President’s inauguration on June 30.