Mayor Duterte’s Cabinet choices

ONE week after the presidential election, Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte announced many of his choices for the positions in his Cabinet. Probably, the average person does not realize that there are 43 current positions that are considered Cabinet-rank, including the head of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas and the presidential assistant for environment.

We tend to think of the most visible secretaries of various departments, like the Department of Health and the Department of Justice. However, the “inner circle” is composed not only of the managers of the different agencies under the Executive branch but also the president’s advisors and those who operate the substantial Office of the President.

An incoming president’s responsibility to fill these positions is unlike anything in the private sector. For example, San Miguel Corp. (SMC) has about 10 major divisions in its corporate structure, including food products under San Miguel PureFoods Inc. (SMPI), and oil refining and marketing under Petron Corp.

No one in his or her right mind would expect a new chief executive officer of the mother company—SMC—to replace the heads of all those subsidiaries. SMPI alone has 16 separate divisions. Yet, that is, in effect, what a national president has to do.

While everyone is talking about Duterte’s choices for his Cabinet, an equally important issue in our minds is that this disclosure was made pubic so soon after the elections.

The final list of members of the Cabinet of President-elect Benigno Aquino III was announced on June 29, 2010, the day before his inauguration. Looking back on the press reports from a week earlier—June 18, 2010—there was still great speculation as to who would be chosen. There had been piecemeal announcements for some posts, such as Corazon J. Soliman as secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. Cesar V. Purisima was projected to be at the Department of Trade and Industry, and eventually was appointed to finance.

Duterte’s list of Cabinet choices is not final or complete. However, the fact that he has put specific names in the public forum is a great departure from the past and one that we welcome. This has—unlike in previous administrations—allowed the people, the press and the pundits to see the tone and where he is going with the start of his presidency. We may not like all of his picks, but, at least, we know what they are.

We may see some changes in his choices based on the public feedback—or we may not. But the point is that, for the first time, Filipinos are aware of the process, and will not be presented—as with President Aquino—a list of who is running the government a day before the new administration takes over. This is a good development.


Image credits: Jimbo Albano

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