MILITARY men will dominate President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet after he named current Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Eduardo Año, who is set to retire in October, as the next chief of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
At the same time, Duterte named his losing running mate, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, as Foreign Affairs secretary, just as the one-year ban on appointments of losing candidates ended.
Speaking to reporters before leaving for working visits to Cambodia, Hong Kong and China on Wednesday, Duterte said that he needs someone to deal with his “problem” with the police and with terrorism.
“May I call upon the Chief of Staff? General Año can you be… Can you come forward and be counted as one of the Filipinos ... You are now facing the next DILG secretary,” Duterte said of Año.
Duterte jested that he could soon form a military junta within the Cabinet, considering the number of top military brass appointed to high-profile and sensitive positions.
Año is the fifth high-ranking AFP officer to be appointed to the Duterte Cabinet, following retired Maj. Gen. Delfin Lorenzana as Defense secretary, retired AFP chief Hermogenes Esperon as national security adviser, retired AFP chief Ricardo Visaya as administrator to the National Irrigation Administration and retired AFP chief Roy Cimatu as secretary of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources.
Año, who will replace Ismael Sueno, whom Duterte fired in April over allegations of corruption, said he was surprised by the appointment but said he would do his best to contribute to the solution of many of the country’s problems.
In the same briefing, Duterte confirmed that he just signed Wednesday the appointment papers of Cayetano to be the next Foreign Affairs secretary.
In accepting the post, Cayetano is set to give up his Senate seat, even though his term expires in 2019.
His colleagues in the Senate said they saw a swift confirmation for Cayetano.
In a statement, the Foreign Affairs Department welcomed Cayetano’s eventual appointment.
The President also defended starlet turned blogger Margaux “Mocha” Uson, whom he appointed as Assistant Secretary at the Presidential Communications Operations Office.
“It’s mine. There’s nothing wrong with the woman or the girl. She’s bright. She’s articulate. And if it’s just a matter of [her] dancing, she was not dancing naked,” Duterte said of Uson.
Duterte said that Uson’s government post was a way of thanking her for joining his campaign sorties for free. With Macon Ramos-Araneta
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