MANILA, Philippines – Presumptive president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has picked former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. to be his interior secretary, his camp said on Friday, May 13.
“I am announcing the nomination of chairman Benhur Abalos to lead the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG),” Vic Rodriguez said in in a press conference on Friday.
The nomination of Abalos as interior secretary will have to be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments (CA) composed of senators and representatives.
Abalos served as Marcos’ campaign manager.
The interior secretary has supervision of the Philippine National Police, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Bureau of Fire Protection, and the National Police Commission.
Abalos will take over the DILG amid the rhetoric of Marcos that seems inclined to continue a crackdown against progressives.
Rodriguez said on Friday that aside from the usual, among the qualifications of a Marcos Cabinet member is “hindi kailanman mananawagan ng pagpapabagsak ng gobyerno (would never call for the ouster of the government).”
Rodriguez also denied the photo spreading on social media showing a partial list of purported Marcos Cabinet members which, incidentally, includes Abalos as DILG chief and presumptive vice president Sara Duterte as education secretary.
“There’s no truth to that apparent list. Walang listahan (There’s no list), the only two names we have announced by far is that of Vice President-elect Inday Sara Duterte for the Department of Education and [Abalos],” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said he will be heading the transition team for the incoming Marcos government. Other members of the transition team are Abalos, former Davao del Norte Representative Anton Lagdameo, South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. who is also the president of Partido Federal, and former Manila representative Naida Angping.
Asked to address the rumors that he would be executive secretary, Rodriguez said, “I’m tasked to lead the transition team and that is my task for now.”
Marcos said in a statement Wednesday, May 11, that the economic team is also a priority.
Rodriguez said the government of Russia had also formally communicated with the incoming Philippine government. Marcos already had a phone conversation with US President Joe Biden, and had met Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian.
SC, CHR appointments up in air
President Rodrigo Duterte already has the shortlist for a vacancy at the Supreme Court – the 15th slot on the bench to replace Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas Bernabe, who is retiring May 14.
Duterte can make the appointment, as he is allowed a midnight appointment, but Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, a member of the Judicial and Bar Council, said the President “can leave it to the incoming president to make the appointment after June 30.”
Rodriguez said it had not been discussed yet, along with the appointments to fill the board of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), all of whom had already reached their retirement. It is still unclear whether Duterte’s midnight appointment exemption also covers constitutional commissions such as the CHR.
“Remember, the term of president-elect Bongbong and VP-elect Sara will commence on afternoon of June 30, so anything that will happen now and before noon June 30, it is still President Duterte’s administration, and we will yield to whatever action he or his Cabinet or his governance will take,” said Rodriguez. – Rappler.com