President Rodrigo Duterte has praised the ex-military officials he has appointed to Cabinet positions, saying that he placed them in such roles to address issues “in time of destruction.”
Duterte visited Tandag, Surigao del Sur on Tuesday to check the damage brought by Typhoon “Auring.” He met with Cabinet members and local officials report about the situation from the ground. It was during this meeting that Duterte mentioned he has 12 ex-military men in his Cabinet.
“Their role in government is precisely, during this time, in time of destruction, sa awa ng Diyos wala naman (thank God, there is no destruction),” he said.
“In the Cabinet room, kaming mga sibilyan, nandiyan, kaharap namin sila puro military. Ex-military, karamihan sa kanila ‘yan (In our Cabinet room, us civilians sit on one side facing the military. Most of them are ex-military). Twelve Cabinet members are all military.”
The President has been criticized for the militarization of his Cabinet. He even let ex-military officers lead the country’s COVID-19 response; the only country in the world to do so.
Former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Carlito Galvez Jr., for example, is responsible for the procurement of the coronavirus vaccines, the purchase and arrival of which have been delayed several times. He is the chief implementer of the government’s national response against COVID-19.
But Duterte maintained that he appointed the ex-generals because he can depend on them.
Aside from Galvez, other ex-military officials in the President’s Cabinet are Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon. They were all former AFP chief of staff.
Also included are Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, former Philippine Army chief; Information and Communications Technology Secretary Gregorio Honasan, formerly of the Philippine Army; and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director-General Isidro Lapeña, who served as Philippine National Police (PNP) director for operations.
The others are Agrarian Reform Secretary John Rualo Castriciones, a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Maharlika Class of 1994; and Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) Chairman Eduardo del Rosario, former General Officer-in-Charge of the Southern Luzon Command; and Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista, former Philippine Army chief.