Malacañang defends Duterte’s preference for former military men in gov’t: They get things done

Published February 7, 2021, 8:15 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Military men know how to get the task done.  

This work ethic is the main reason President Duterte has chosen former military officers to join his government to deliver results, according to his spokesman, Secretary Harry Roque.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (RESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“Sinasabi talaga ni Presidente, talagang may preference siya sa mga militar, kasi ang military – bilang executive kasi tagapagpatupad ka – ang mga sundalo, ang thinking ay sumunod kaysa sa magkuwestyun, kaya they get things done (It is said the President really has a preference for the military because — as the executive, the enforcer — with soldiers, the thinking is they get things done instead of questioning the order),” Roque said over DZBB Sunday, Feb. 7.

Citing an example, Roque highlighted the work of two retired generals, namely Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu for the cleanup and rehabilitation of Boracay Island as well as vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. for the vaccination procurement program. 

Cimatu, a former military chief, was named Environment Secretary in 2017. The former special envoy to the Middle East is a member of the Philippine Military Academy class of 1970.

Galvez was named Presidential peace adviser after his retirement as Armed Forces chief of staff in 2018. The retired general, a PMA graduate in 1985, currently serves as chief implementer of the government’s national policy against the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Tingnan natin iyong nangyari sa paglilinis ng Boracay, si General Cimatu, nagawa naman niya (Look at the cleanup of Boracay, General Cimatu was able to do it),” Roque said.

“Iyong pag-aangkat ng bakuna si General Galvez, eh nakita naman ninyo bagama’t sinubukan na pulahin ang pulitika, sinubukan na batuhin ng mga paratang ng korapsiyon eh tuluy-tuloy pa rin si General Galvez. Nandoon siya na para siyang sundalo. Kahit anong bato sa kanya, eh ipinapatupad ang batas at ang mga polisiya (On the vaccine procurement, General Galvez continued to work despite attempts to discredit him with politics,  hurl allegations of corruption. He is still standing like a solider. No matter what you throw at him, he will enforce the law and policies),” he added.

Roque however denied that majority of the administration officials are retired military men. “I don’t think na totoo po na majority sila ay heneral na, majority pa rin po ay civilian ( I don’t think that majority of the officials are retired generals. Civilians still compromise the majority),” he added.

The latest ex-military man offered a government post is former Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Gilbert Gapay. 

The President, in the change of command Friday, Feb. 5, said Gapay could choose between the post in the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) or the Department of National Defense. Duterte made the offer after commending Gapay on his successful tour of duty in the military.

The President previously explained that he preferred retired military officials in government posts because they follow orders and get the job done efficiently. Duterte said he has “a special fondness” for the military personnel since they are honest and industrious.

Duterte said they were different from some civilian public servants who supposedly drag their feet in completing a task.

Among the former military officials in the Duterte Cabinet are Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, Information and Communications Secretary Gregorio Honasan II, Housing Secretary Eduardo del Rosario, and Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista.