MANILA, Philippines – President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has people in mind to head the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
During a late night press conference in Davao City on Saturday, May 21, Duterte said he is eyeing Silvestre "Bebot" Bello III as Labor Secretary.
"Bebot Bello will take the Department of Labor," he told reporters. (READ: LIST: Who's who in the incoming Duterte Cabinet)
Duterte had previously named Bello as his incoming administration's negotiator for the peace process with communist rebels.
Given his new appointment, Bello will just serve as a "consultant" to the peace process, while another person will be given the post of negotiator, said Duterte.
Bello was a former Justice Secretary and Solicitor General. He led the government negotiating panel in peace talks with the New People's Army, Communist Party of the Philippines, and National Democratic Front.
Duterte previously said he would give 4 departments, include DOLE, to Left-leaning persons. He clarified that he would not be appointing anyone from the Communist Party of the Philippines, preferring Left-leaning progressives for the job.
"I have to give in to the progressives. Not to the Communist Party hardcore. Si Sison ang may sabi we are not taking any offers to join government, 'yung hardcore. Hindi naman talaga pwede. May kaso sila eh. I'm looking for a guy na nasa progressive sector," said Duterte.
(Sison was the one who said they will not take offers to join government, the hardcore ones. It really cannot be because they have pending cases. I'm looking for a guy in the progressive sector.)
Pernia, not Salceda, for NEDA
Meanwhile, it seems Albay Governor Joey Salceda has been passed over for the post of NEDA chief.
Duterte said the post will go to US-educated Ernesto Pernia, a professor emeritus at the University of the Philippines (UP) School of Economics.
"NEDA si Pernia," said the president-elect.
The 72-year-old Pernia advised Duterte on his economic agenda during the campaign season. He also worked as lead economist at the Asian Development Bank.
While campaigning in Albay, Duterte promised Salceda the post of NEDA chief, fueling speculation that the popular governor would leave the Liberal Party to join Duterte.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.