10 Duterte appointees running in 2019 elections

Pia Ranada
10 Duterte appointees running in 2019 elections
There are 5 Cabinet members and 5 lower-ranking appointees of President Rodrigo Duterte seeking electoral posts in the 2019 midterm elections

MANILA, Philippines – It’s on to the next adventure for 10 of President Rodrigo Duterte’s appointees to executive branch offices. Five Cabinet members and 5 lower-ranking appointees have filed their candidacies to run in the 2019 elections.

This is expected to have a big impact on the Duterte administration because of the key positions several of these officials held.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) rules state that upon filing of candidacies, officials are deemed resigned from their posts, possibly bringing about interruption in the departments or agencies they lead.

The 5 Cabinet members who have resigned to seek electoral posts are Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr, Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, and Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Francis Tolentino.

Of the 5, four are top Malacañang officials, or officials Duterte often deals with directly in his daily tasks as Chief Executive. These are Go, Roque, Evasco, and Tolentino. 

The 5th Cabinet member, Cayetano, is in charge of a very critical portfolio – the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Evasco’s post is particularly critical as his office has supervision over 9 agencies:

  • Cooperative Development Authority
  • National Anti-Poverty Commission
  • National Commission on Indigenous Peoples
  • National Commission on Muslim Filipinos
  • National Youth Commission
  • Office of the President-Presidential Complaint Center
  • Philippine Commission on Women
  • Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor
  • Technical Education and Skills Development Authority

Duterte, knowing the impact of these Cabinet departures, made sure to choose some replacements quickly “so there is no paralysis in the flow of functions,” he said in an October 9 press conference.

Even before Roque and Cayetano showed up at the Comelec, the President had already announced their substitutes – Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo and United Nations envoy Teodoro Locsin Jr, respectively.

But Duterte is yet to name the replacements of the 3 other resigned Cabinet members Go, Evasco, and Tolentino. A lawyer from Davao City, Charmalou Aldevera, is being considered to take over Go’s functions as presidential aide.

Panelo, on Thursday, October 18, gave assurances that officers-in-charge are ensuring smooth operations in agencies affected by the recent resignations. He, however, could not name the OICs.

“I think there is an OIC and it’s functioning…Obviously it’s operating because there is no stoppage in the continuity of the service,” he said.

In the lower ranks

In the lower levels of the Duterte bureaucracy, 4 appointees resigned to run. These are Bureau of Corrections director-general Ronald dela Rosa, Agriculture Undersecretary Jose Gabriel “Pompee” La Viña, Social Welfare Undersecretary Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso, and Transportation Undersecretary Thomas Orbos.

Mocha Uson, formerly communications assistant, is another Duterte appointee running in 2019 but she resigned even before the filing of candidacies. Uson is running for party-list representative under the AA-Kasosyo party. 

Duterte is yet to name replacements for the 5.

Not all these Duterte appointees chose to run under the President’s national political party or its local chapters.

Evasco, a longtime friend of Duterte’s, is running for Bohol governor under the Nationalist People’s Coalition. Roque, while supposedly offered a nomination from PDP-Laban, chose to run under the People’s Reform Party instead.

Cayetano also stayed with his Nacionalista Party. La Viña, who wants to be Cagayan de Oro City mayor, is running under the Coalition of Padayon Pilipino, Hugpong ng Pagbabago, and Centrist Democratic Party. Hugpong ng Pagbabago is the regional party led by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio, the President’s daughter.

Moreno is running under the local party Asenso Manileño– Rappler.com

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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.