Duterte: Advisers 'just pretend that they advise me'
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – It’s all him.
President-elect Rodrigo Duterte addressed queries on how he arrived at his choices for his Cabinet on Monday, May 23.
Despite having a “transition committee” to accept resumés and vet nominees, Duterte said that he alone makes the final decision.
“Ako lang ‘yan. Ako lang ang lahat. Hindi ako nagyayabang,” he told media during a press conference. (It’s only me. I decide on everything. I’m not boasting.)
He downplayed the influence of his transition team on his decision-making process. The team is composed of long-time friends and trusted campaign team members.
“Ito sila they just pretend that they advise me, sa totoo lang. Maniwala ka. Magtanong ka dito sa Davao. Pati ‘yang political strategists ko, akin lahat ‘yan. Walang gumagawa sa akin,” he said.
(They just pretend that they advise me, that's the truth. Believe me. Ask anyone in Davao. Even my political strategists, it's all my idea. No one does it for me.)
The incoming president said he makes his choices based on “gut feel”, an instinct, he said, that comes from his many years in politics.
“I have been in this planet for quite a time and a student of politics all the time…So alam ko kung sino ‘yung mga personalities in the horizon. Maybe not really all of these persona, pero alam ko kung sino 'yung dapat nandiyan, dapat wala,” he said.
(So I know who are the personalities in the horizon. Maybe not really all, but I know who should be there, who should not.)
Duterte said he depends on “investigations” to check whether a nominee is a good fit for the post. He said he knows them down to their multiple spouses.
“I know all of them, ang kanilang interests, are they connected with this, are they connected with that? I need to investigate. Ilan asawa niya? Tatlo ba, dalawa ba? Would it be a conflict later on?
(I know all of them, their interests, are they connected with this, are they connected with that? How many spouses do they have? Three or two? Would that be a conflict later on?)
Role of transition team
Duterte’s executive assistant Christopher “Bong” Go told Rappler that the transition’s team job is only to collect resumés of applicants and conduct the background research.
“Si Mayor talaga ang pumipili niyan. Ang selection team, kolekta lang ng bio-data, resumé ‘yan, tapos ipapasa kay Mayor,” he said. (The mayor is the one who chooses. The selection team collects bio-data, resumés, then passes them to the Mayor.)
When checking on their backgrounds, among the things they look for is whether or not there are standing cases against the nominee, Go added.
Duterte has left the rest of the transition to his selected Cabinet officials.
“Ang instruction ni Mayor, per department na ang transition. Kung sino ‘yung finance [secretary], finance na rin. Sa executive department, executive secretary na rin,” said Go.
(The Mayor’s instruction is that the transition will be per department. The finance secretary will be in charge of the Department of Finance. For the executive department, it’s the executive secretary.)
Despite the process, some of Duterte's appointments have raised some eyebrows. Chief among these are the choice of Mark Villar for Public Works secretary and Ampatuan lawyer Salvador Panelo for presidential spokesman.
But Duterte said Villar, who is the son of real estate businessman Manny Villar, has been instructed to "skip" building roads near his family's real estate developments.
"I-drawing mo lang 'yung subdivisions [niyo] sa mapa. Do not build a road there (Draw the subdivisions you own on a map. Do not build a a road there)," he said.
As for Panelo, Duterte said he was only a "temporary" spokesman.
In the same media briefing, Duterte said that while most Cabinet appointees are “final”, he may still change his mind about others.
He has given himself until the second week of June to decide with finality.
The government will formally be turned over to him and his team on June 30, Inauguration Day. – Rappler.com