Nograles says House stint will help him in new Malacañang post

Mara Cepeda
(UPDATED) Outgoing Davao City 1st District Representative and incoming Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles says he can use his knowledge of government funds, having served as appropriations committee chair

MOVING ON TO MALACAÑANG. Davao City 1st District Representative Karlo Nograles presides over a hearing on the proposed 2019 budget on July 31, 2018. File photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Outgoing Davao City 1st District Representative Karlo Nograles said his experience as House committee on appropriations chairperson will help him with his new job: Cabinet Secretary of President Rodrigo Duterte. 

Nograles made the statement ahead of his oath-taking for the post in Malacañang on Monday, November 5. (READ: From House to Palace: Karlo Nograles is next Cabinet Secretary

“As appropriations chair, one has to be familiar with the financial resources of the government’s different agencies, as well as have a general idea of their main thrusts and major programs. This is knowledge and experience I believe I can put to good use in my new position,” said Nograles. 

“And with the guidance and input of the senior officials in the Cabinet, like Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez, I hope to hit the ground running and do whatever I can to help the President,” he added.

Nograles, however, will have fewer powers than former cabinet secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr, who is running for Bohol governor next year. A Duterte executive order stripped the office of supervision over 8 agencies. 

Duterte’s appointment of Nograles is interesting, as the latter’s father, former House speaker Prospero Nograles, had engaged in bitter rivalry with Duterte in Davao City. When Duterte won the presidency in 2016, however, the two mended ties, with the Nograles clan supporting his presidential bid.

The younger Nograles has since been a dependable Duterte ally in the House, readily defending the President from critics.

Duterte also likes to call the younger Nograles his “nephew.” He and Nograles are related by blood as Nograles’ mother, Rhodora Bendigo, is Duterte’s 3rd cousin.

Gratitude for Duterte 

Nograles, a 3rd-termer congressman, then thanked Duterte for trusting him.

“I thank President Duterte for welcoming me to his Cabinet. As a fellow Mindanaoan and kapwa probinsiyano (someone from the province), I hope to contribute to government efforts to bring development to the regions through different programs that place an emphasis on providing more economic opportunities outside Metro Manila,” said Nograles. 

Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo wished Nograles luck with his new post.

“My congratulations to the new Cabinet Secretary, Karlo Nograles. I am sure he will do very well in his new position, and that he will be a valuable member of the President’s team. I wish him all the best!” said Arroyo.

House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya said Nograles is even “overqualified” for Cabinet Secretary.

“The legislative branch has always been a talent farm of the executive. Congressman Karlo joins the long list of lawmakers tapped for Palace service. He is very much overqualified for the position,” said Andaya.

“As head of the appropriations committee, he brings with him a wealth of experience in matching public resources with people’s needs,” the majority leader added.

Prior to his appointment to the Duterte Cabinet, Nograles wanted to run for senator in 2019. But he dropped his Senate bid after the House leadership discovered that more than P50 billion in “misplaced” funds were inserted into the 2019 budget.

Nograles, ousted speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, and former majority leader Rodolfo Fariñas denied “parking” the funds to benefit favored lawmakers.

The multibillion-peso fund was also the reason why Nograles and Camarines Sur 2nd District Representative Luis Raymund Villafuerte had a shouting match with Majority Leader Rolando Andaya. 

The House leadership then convened the committee of the whole that took jurisdiction over the proposed 2019 budget from Nograles’ panel and moved to realign P51.792 billion in Department of Public Works and Highways funds originally allocated for infrastructure projects in several regions to other projects of the department and other state agencies instead.

Nograles also did not participate during the plenary deliberations on the 2019 budget. The vice chairpersons of the appropriations panel defended the budget at the plenary instead. –

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.