MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed musician and entrepreneur Ramon “RJ” Jacinto as Presidential Adviser on Economic Affairs and Information Technology Communications, Malacañang announced on Thursday, July 14.
Malacañang said in a statement that Jacinto will have the rank of undersecretary.
Jacinto is best known for founding a rock-and-roll radio station, DZRJ, and other businesses in the music industry, including guitar-making company RJ Guitars and the music lounge and restaurant, Bistro RJ in Makati.
Jacinto also helps run his family’s steel business. He graduated with honors from the Ateneo de Manila University with a degree in economics.
It will not be the first time for Jacinto to serve government. He vice-chaired the presidential committee on flagship programs and projects during the Ramos administration.
In 1998, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism reported that Jacinto, as vice chair of that presidential committee, allegedly used his closeness to Malacañang to get huge loans from two government banks in 1994 and 1996, and also to broker “deals.” It also said that in 1997, Jacinto was sued by his business partners for allegedly funneling funds from the First Women’s Credit Corporation to his debt-ridden companies. Jacinto denied the charges.
Jacinto, in a Facebook post, said the case has been “settled” and again denied using political connections to get loans.
“I supposedly received a ‘behest’ loan through my political connections with former President Ramos, nothing could be farther from the truth… I would like to let you be the judge of that,” he wrote.
He gave his own explanation for one of the loans mentioned in the PCIJ article, the loan from Philippine National Bank.
“We bought the property at a HUGE premium, paid PNB $40million for a property we never used (there is no building until now), PNB booked a P3.7 Billion profit, went public/IPO then took back the property,” he said.
However, he gave no explanation for the P400-million loan from Land Bank made in 1994 which went to First Women’s Credit Corporation which is 60-percent owned by Jacinto.
Jacinto was a vocal Duterte supporter during the May 2016 presidential elections. He hosted events for Duterte supporters in his restaurant and even composed a song for Duterte.
He is just one of Duterte’s supporters in the entertainment industry who will serve the new administration in an official capacity.
Singers Jimmy Bondoc and Freddie Aguilar, who were both part of Duterte’s presidential campaign, are being eyed for positions in the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation and National Commission for Culture and the Arts, respectively. Game show host and comedian Arnell Ignacio is also being eyed as an official for PAGCOR. – Rappler.com