Duterte: Military to handle next international event after SEA Games woes

Pia Ranada
The military are ‘better organizers’ because they think ‘structurally,’ says President Duterte, who has often relied on the Armed Forces when confronted by controversies

CALLING THE CAVALRY. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte presides over the 42nd Cabinet Meeting at the Malacañang Palace on October 11, 2019. Malacañang Photo

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is again turning to the military to fix controversies his administration is facing.

Duterte, on Thursday, November 28, said he wants the Armed Forces of the Philippines to organize the next international event, amid back-to-back mishaps in the country’s hosting of the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

Next time, itong mga ganoon, the military will handle it kasi yung military structural (Next time, for these things, the military will handle it because the military is structural),” said Duterte during a media interview.

“These things should be handled by military men. They are better organizers because the entire Armed Forces is one big organization and they are trained to be structural in thinking,” he added.

The Commander-in-Chief clarified that he wants “planners” in the military, not foot soldiers, to take over the hosting of future international events.

The military, he said, would be more likely to anticipate unexpected events and find efficient solutions to them, as compared to a civilian organization.

Duterte said that among the reported SEA Games blunders, he was most dismayed about foreign athletes having to wait for hours in the airport and in hotel lobbies.

The President has often relied on the military, both active-duty soldiers and retired soldiers, to take over certain government operations.

In 2018, he announced a military take-over of the Bureau of Customs, then under fire over the smuggling of P11-billion worth of shabu. He had also ordered the military to run after policemen entering casinos. After ordering the closure of tourist hotspot Boracay Island, he put retired generals in charge of its rehabilitation.

Of his Cabinet, 8 officials are retired military generals. The number of ex-police or military generals in his Cabinet has tripled since he began his presidency in 2016. He has appointed at least 46 retired police and military into civilian government posts.

In his Thursday speech, Duterte announced he plans to appoint a retiring military general into a vacant post in the Philippine National Oil Corporation. He was likely referring to the post of PNOC-Exploration Corporation CEO. Last month, he fired Pedro Aquino Jr from the position. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.