Palace defends appointment of ex-soldiers in key gov't posts; transfer of some agencies under their watch
Malaca?ang has defended President Rodrigo Duterte's appointment of former military men to key government positions and transferring of eight agencies, six of which under the two departments headed by former generals.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the statement after former National Anti-Poverty Commission head Liza Maza hit Executive Order No. 67 regarding the transfer of the agencies, including NAPC, which was placed under the Department of Social Welfare and Development headed by retired Army chief Lt. Gen. Rolando Bautista.
"The President’s appointment of former uniformed personnel to key Cabinet or sub-Cabinet posts reflects his trust to the military hierarchy known for its high degree of professionalism, discipline, and can-do attitude. These men have sacrificed many hours of their lives, even at the expense of their personal time with their families, for the love of and loyalty to our country; and this patriotic fervor, not to mention their academic credentials and experience in leading and managing large organizations, qualifies them for the posts that they hold," he said in a statement Thursday night.
Panelo said Maza's criticism was unfortunate and her view of the reorganization and composition of the Cabinet was misplaced if not distorted.
"Ms. Maza’s appointment to the government, including those identified or allied with the Left, did not make the Cabinet communist or convert the respective offices they headed leftist. Her conclusion, therefore, that placing former military men in executive offices automatically translates to a military junta-led government is completely erroneous," said Panelo, also chief presidential legal counsel.
He said Duterte’s inclusion of left-leaning personalities in the Cabinet was part of "his sincere effort to end the communist insurgency by inviting them to put their talents to good use in serving the nation - instead of calling for the government's ouster - and be agents for peace and unification."
Duterte appointed Judy Taguiwalo as DSWD chief and Rafael Mariano as head of the Department of Agrarian Reform, all left-leaning individuals. Maza quit, while the two others were rejected by the Commission on Appointments.
Panelo also said those individuals whom Duterte appointed to key Cabinet posts were no longer active in the military.
"As regards the legal aspect, the prohibition under Article 16, Section 5(4) of the 1987 Constitution is similarly immaterial because the men Ms. Maza mentioned are no longer active in the military but are now civilians," he said.
He said Duterte’s intention in rationalizing the Executive Banch through EO 67 is to promote greater efficiency, agency convergence and participatory governance in the delivery of essential public services to all the sectors of society, given that they are now transferred to line agencies.
"This is also in line with the campaign promise of PRRD to make the bureaucracy more efficient and responsive to the needs of our people through rightsizing," Panelo said.
Aside from NAPC, Duterte, through EO 67, placed under DSWD the National Commission on Indigenous People and the Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor.
The same EO transferred the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, the Philippine Commission on Women and the National Youth Commission under the Department of the Interior and Local Government headed by former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines retired Gen. Eduardo A?o.
"The horror story this Halloween is EO 67 that was released yesterday placing six policy oversight and advisory national commissions including NAPC under the direct supervision of two former military officials A?o and Bautista," Maza said.
Two other agencies that were removed under the Office of the President were the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and the Cooperative Development Authority. They are now under the Department of Trade and Industry. Celerina Monte/DMS