‘Mahusay!’: Duterte impressed by Mark Villar, Tugade, Lopez

Pia Ranada
‘Mahusay!’: Duterte impressed by Mark Villar, Tugade, Lopez
President Rodrigo Duterte gives 3 Cabinet members a thumbs up for their performance

Past the midpoint of his presidency, President Rodrigo Duterte is getting a better idea of how his Cabinet members work.

Apparently, he’s impressed with the work ethic of 3 Cabinet secretaries in particular – Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.

“This is not a brief for Villar pero mahusay si Villar. Mahusay si Villar. Hindi ako masyado noon nung una pero ‘yung nagtrabaho na – Tugade and Villar plus itong si, ano, si Lopez,” Duterte said in a speech before local chief executives in Malacañang on Tuesday, August 6.

(This is not a brief for Villar but Villar is good. Villar is good. I wasn’t that sure at first, but when the work started – Tugade and Villar plus Lopez.)

So convinced is Duterte of their competence that he recommended that the next administration keep the 3 as consultants.

“I hope they’d be around post-Duterte even as consultants. They’re good; really good,” he said in Filipino.

Later on, the President said he had assumptions about Villar because he is the “son of a politician.” Villar is the son of former senator Many Villar and Senator Cynthia Villar.

“But Villar is hardworking. Talagang pumupunta siya doon. Mahusay siya (He really goes to the site. He’s good),” said Duterte.

The Philippine leader also expressed confidence in one of his most trusted advisers and his friend since childhood days, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

“You can expect the economy will grow, Dominguez and company ‘yan (because of Dominguez and company),” said Duterte.

In the past, the President had also constantly defended Tugade from accusations of corruption and conflict of interest.

After speaking of these most notable of his secretaries, Duterte said the rest of his Cabinet was composed of retired military generals.

“All others are military officers. But those are the departments which I think would need immediate action,” said Duterte.

The President has never shied from speaking publicly about his thoughts on his Cabinet members.

His remarks range from the lighthearted teasing about Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo’s “sartorial elegance” or the weightier jabs at former agriculture secretary Manny Piñol’s supposed empty assurances of 100% rice self-sufficiency.

But Duterte’s public statements are also partly founded on formal assessments.

Regular Cabinet report cards put together by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Presidential Management Staff, and previously the Office of the Cabinet Secretary under Leoncio Evasco Jr, had identified Villar’s and Tugade’s departments as among the high-performing ones, according to an official who was involved in such assessments.

These report cards are submitted to Duterte for his perusal.

In contrast, the agriculture department under Piñol had scored low, which could be why Duterte said he needed an agriculture chief who could “thrive at the mechanics.” – 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.