Esperon (left) and Bello
Esperon to NSC; Bello to DOLE
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - May 23, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr., who served as military chief under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, will be the national security adviser of incoming president Rodrigo Duterte.

Former justice secretary and peace negotiator Silvestre Bello III will be the labor secretary. Duterte is also eyeing Bello as consultant for the peace talks with the National Democratic Front.

University of the Philippines School of Economics professor Ernesto Pernia, meanwhile, will become director-general of the National Economic and Development Authority.

Pernia also served as chairman of the board of trustees of the University of San Carlos and lead economist of the Asian Development Bank Economics and Research Department. His research interests include development economics, demographic economics, and human resource economics, according to the UP website.

Esperon also served as presidential adviser on the peace process and head of the Presidential Management Staff during the Arroyo administration.

He was one of the generals tagged in the alleged massive cheating during the 2004 polls, which saw then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo securing a fresh six-year term. Esperon, however, denied any involvement in the poll cheating.

Duterte has yet to pick the heads of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Bureau of Customs. He, however, said he would not retain BIR Commissioner Kim Henares and Customs Commissioner Alberto Lina.

Duterte also confirmed that Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya would be the next leader of the 125,000-strong military.

Col. Rolando Bautista, the Joint Task Group Basilan commander, would be the next chief of the Presidential Security Group.

The incoming president has yet to choose a defense secretary since former defense chief Gilberto Teodoro has declined the post.

“Gibo (Teodoro’s nickname) has begged off. I have in mind a military man who is already retired. I will not divulge his name now. I have (yet) to talk to him,” Duterte said.

Lyceum of the Philippines Batangas president Peter Laurel has also rejected the offer for him to become the next education secretary.

“You know the primary reason why they declined? Because of the pay,” Duterte said.

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