Philippine President-elect Duterte unveils Cabinet made up of 'men of integrity'

Philippines' president-elect Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a press conference in Davao.
Philippines' president-elect Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a press conference in Davao.PHOTO: AFP

Philippine President-elect also dangles rewards for killing drug lords and their men

An eclectic mix of leftists, academics and close friends has formed Filipino President-elect Rodrigo Duterte's new Cabinet, which he unveiled yesterday at a news conference.

"I assure you, these are all men of integrity and honesty," Mr Duterte said, shortly after presiding over his first Cabinet meeting in Davao City, 970km south of the capital Manila.

The 71-year-old former Davao City mayor, who won a landslide victory last month after a controversial campaign, has been praised for several of the appointments.

 

Three of them - finance minister Carlos Dominguez, budget minister Benjamin Diokno and labour minister Silvestre Bello - held Cabinet positions under former presidents Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada.

Mr Duterte's choice for social welfare minister, culled from a list submitted by his communist allies, has also been given the thumbs-up.

Ms Judy Taguiwalo is a University of the Philippines professor, women's rights advocate and a former political prisoner in the years when dictator Ferdinand Marcos was president.

She will administer a ministry that runs one of the government's pillar anti-poverty programmes.

Also plucked from academia are former national treasurer Leonor Briones, who will serve as education minister, and economist Ernesto Pernia, the incoming chief economic planner.

Mr Duterte said he does not intend to interfere in his Cabinet members' work.

"I just want honesty and good faith in dealing with the public. I do not want people queueing. I do not want people spending just to get something from the government."

TOUGH CONDITION

I told him I'd put him there, but on one condition: If you catch one of your agents spreading drugs, I want you to kill him personally. 

PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT-ELECT RODRIGO DUTERTE, on Mr Dante Gierran, who has been appointed to head the law enforcement agency.

The president-elect also filled up slots in the law enforcement and revenue-generating agencies that will play key roles in helping him deliver on his campaign promise of waging a brutal war against crime and corruption.

He singled out Mr Dante Gierran, Davao regional director of the National Bureau of Investigation, his choice to head the law enforcement agency that is the equivalent of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mr Duterte said: "I told him I'd put him there, but on one condition: If you catch one of your agents spreading drugs, I want you to kill him personally."

The anti-crime maverick offered a three million pesos (S$88,000) bounty for each drug lord killed by law enforcers. The bounty goes down to two million pesos for the drug lords' lieutenants, one million pesos for "second-level" bosses, and 50,000 pesos for low-level runners.

Asked about a tabloid columnist who was recently killed by a hired hitman, Mr Duterte claimed that corruption had to do with the deaths of some journalists. "Journalists are killed for being corrupt. Just because you are a journalist, (doesn't mean) you are exempt from assassination," he said.

Mr Duterte was also asked about Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's recent warning to him to stop "reigniting" the Sabah dispute.

Mr Duterte said: "I am not igniting anything, but we will stick to our original position. We will pursue our claims, but only by peaceful means. We do not have the luxury of getting into trouble like having war."

Mr Duterte has yet to appoint ministers for other key departments such as health, environment and trade. But he has ruled out appointing vice-president Leni Robredo, an ally of outgoing president Benigno Aquino, to any ministry.

"I know (former senator Ferdinand) Marcos. I do not want to hurt his feelings. Leni has to understand she belongs to the opposite side. There is no compelling reason to appoint her," he said.

Ms Robredo eked out a narrow win over Mr Marcos in the vice-presidential race.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2016, with the headline 'Duterte picks 'men of integrity' for his Cabinet'. Print Edition | Subscribe