Marcos offers Cabinet posts to ex-labor chief Laguesma, OFW advocate Ople

Presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr is mobbed by his supporters as he arrives at the campaign heaquarters in Manila on May 11, 2022.
AFP/Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is courting two experts in labor and employment to be a part of his Cabinet, as his camp is still in the process of “convincing” candidates to join his upcoming government.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Vic Rodriguez, Marcos’ spokesman, said the presumptive president-elect offered Cabinet posts to former Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma and migrant workers advocate Susan Ople.

Marcos had a talk with Laguesma and Ople before he flew to Australia with his family for a “private trip”, Rodriguez said.

The spokesman, however, did not disclose the departments being offered to the two or if they are in consideration for the same position. He added that both Laguesma and Ople were given time to decide.

"They’re both respected in the field of labor and employment and he (Marcos) asked them if they want to serve the government under the Marcos administration," Rodriguez told reporters.

Laguesma served as secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment during the Estrada administration from 1998 to 2001. Over a decade later, he was appointed as a board member of state pension fund Social Security System by the late ex-President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

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An advocate for migrant workers’ rights for years, Ople, meanwhile, founded the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute, a non-governmental organization that provides assistance to overseas Filipino workers. Her NGO gives training to returning OFWs to help them land better jobs abroad.

Should the two accept Marcos’ offer, Laguesma and Ople would be part of a Cabinet whose formation investors have been watching for.

So far, Marcos has only made public the names of two Cabinet officials. Sara Duterte-Carpio, presumptive vice-president elect and Marcos’ running mate, will lead the Department of Education while former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. has been chosen as interior secretary.

Some analysts believe Marcos, the son of the late dictator, does not have a talent pool that is as deep as his predecessor’s despite winning by a landslide. For now, investors will likely stay cautious as they wait for the arrival of a new economic team that would face the difficult task of sustaining a nascent recovery.

READ: Slow pace of forming Marcos economic team prolongs investor anxiety

At the same news conference, Rodriguez said Marcos is still trying to "convince" candidates to join his Cabinet.

“It’s not that they don’t want to accept the offer. They’re still consulting and talking with their families because that would be a sacrifice,” Rodriguez said.

"We’re still searching." — Ian Nicolas Cigaral with reports from Kristine Joy Patag

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