Duterte changes mind; DENR will not go to progressive Left

By Lilian C. Mellejor | Philippines News Agency

DAVAO CITY—President-elect Rodrigo R. Duterte is looking for a person who is not from the progressive Left to head the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), as he backtracked from his original plan to hand over the department to the Left, citing serious and sensitive issues on mining operations.

However, Duterte remains committed to give the departments of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to the left.

He said the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) went to Silvestre H. Bello III, who is also the choice of the left.

Duterte said he reconsidered to give the DENR to the progressive Left after going through all some papers. But Duterte said he has already explained to Fidel V. Agcaoili, the emissary of the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF), why he would not concede the DENR post to them during their meeting on Tuesday night.

Agcaoili met with Duterte on Tuesday night to submit the list of nominees from the progressive Left for government offices reserved for them.

“It is an impressive list…about less than 10,” Duterte told reporters. He said he already submitted the list of the nominees, mostly from the University of the Philippines, to the screening committee.

“If you are identified with the Left—that is not an issue with me. Once upon a time I was left of center,” Duterte said. He emphasized he only wanted a peaceful country.

“Hopefully, when I step down wala na iyong [there is no more] left…right…Moro…lumad…Christian. I want to build a strong nation for the next generation,” he said.

In explaining why he cannot give the DENR to the leftists, Duterte said there are serious problems in that department and he needs someone to strongly oversee the agency. The mayor has been strongly criticizing the mining operations in the country because of abuse of resources.

Mainit ako diyan kasi talagang sinira nila ang ating lupa [I am really furious with that…they really destroyed our soil],” he told reporters in a midnight conference on Wednesday.

What is unacceptable, Duterte said, they (oligarchs) partnered with multinational mining companies and enriched themselves leaving nothing for the poor Filipinos but the spoils of their operations.