MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Eduardo Año is the next interior and local government secretary, President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Wednesday, May 10.
Duterte made the announcement in response to questions in a news briefing before he left for Cambodia to attend the World Economic Forum on ASEAN 2017.
“You really want to know, who’s the next? May I call upon the Chief of Staff?…You are now facing the next DILG secretary,” the President said.
When asked, Duterte said Año will serve as AFP chief until he retires in October because he has to see through some military programs.
“I want him to complete [his term] because there are projects. You cannot just pull out someone from the Armed Forces especially those tasked with programming what will happen next. And the remedies that we are supposed to be ready,” he said.
When asked to comment, Año expressed surprise. He said the announcement came too early. (READ: Año says ‘very early’ DILG offer surprised him)
Duterte added that he chose a military officer for a job that oversees the Philippine National Police (PNP), among others, because of his problems with the police.
“I have a problem with the police….I was reading coming here, another spot report of 4 policemen again kidnapping – putangina talaga itong mga police na ito (these policemen are really sons-of-bitches). So you need one, somebody who knows the police by the fingertips. Kailangan ‘yan (That’s needed),” he said, referring to Año.
‘No utang na loob for key positions’
Duterte announced the appointment of Año while responding to questions on whether he was tapping losing candidates in the 2016 elections to fill in vacancies in his Cabinet. At the time the question was asked, he had yet to name his choices for the DILG and Department of Foreign Affairs.
“Wala naman (None, really). Puno na eh (It’s filled up). Right after the elections, you have to face the reality of utang na loob (debt of gratitude). So ilagay mo iyan sila doon (So you appoint them). But for the key positions, hindi kasali iyan (they’re not included),” he said.
“So the guy that must be appointed in that position must measure [up] to the requirements of the public office. Hindi iyan puwede na basta-basta lang (You can’t appoint just anyone there),” Duterte added.
He noted that these “key” appointees were not part of his campaign team. Another such appointee is former AFP chief Roy Cimatu, the new environment secretary.
“I knew them as friends and I believe in their integrity,” Duterte said.
Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr was widely believed to be the next DILG chief because the President initially wanted him for the post.
But Duterte himself said in February that Marcos was not interested, though the former senator said a day later that he could not say no to the President if asked to join the Cabinet.
The defeated vice presidential bet is in the middle of an electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.
Military generals in departments
A 1983 graduate of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), Año is a veteran intelligence officer who was named military chief only last December. (READ: Where does the military stand with Duterte?)
His appointment to the DILG would be a second for a retired military general in a department that deals with elected local officials and the civilian PNP.
The late Angelo Reyes, himself a former armed forces chief, also served as DILG secretary under the Arroyo government – from 2004 to 2006.
The PNP is headed by Año’s underclass at the academy, Ronald dela Rosa, who graduated from the PMA in 1986.
Another PMA graduate, retired police general Catalino Cuy, is at present the acting DILG secretary, a position he assumed after Duterte sacked DILG Secretary Ismael Sueno in April.
Talk about Año’s impending appointment began to circulate in military circles last week. It came at the height of tension between the AFP and the PNP over operational issues involving the hunt for terrorists in Bohol, in the aftermath of a foiled terror attack on the tourist spot.
Año is also the second military general to be named to a department post this week. On Monday, May 8, the President appointed former armed forces chief Roy Cimatu as head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, replacing environmental advocate Gina Lopez who was rejected by the Commission on Appointments. – Rappler.com
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