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Diokno, Briones offered DBM, DepEd posts

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Incoming president Rodrigo Duterte has asked former national treasurer Leonor Briones and former budget secretary Benjamin Diokno to join his Cabinet.

Duterte on Saturday said he wanted Briones to head the Department of Education (DepEd) and Diokno to again head the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

The incoming president said he chose Briones and Diokno because they performed well in their respective capacities in past administrations.

Briones is professor emeritus at the University of the Philippines’ National College of Public Administration and Governance, while Diokno is a professorial lecturer at the UP School of Economics.

Briones reportedly asked Duterte to give her until tomorrow to decide on his offer.

Duterte said Briones would be tasked to resolve the issues in the implementation of the K-12 program, which adds two more years in high school.

“She is quite familiar with the problem we are facing with the implementation of K to 12,” he added.

Duterte also praised Briones for being an advocate of budget reforms and transparency in government spending.

Duterte explained that he is offering Diokno the position of budget secretary as he headed the DBM under the administration of president Joseph Estrada and the late president Corazon Aquino.

“Because of the implementation of K to 12, there will be a lot of students who would be marginalized or would not be able to enroll and a good number of teachers (would also) lose their positions so it is a problem. And for that, I took in Benjamin Diokno as the budget secretary,” he added.

Duterte said he has also chosen people to lead the defense and interior and local government departments. He said he plans to introduce a majority of his cabinet members on Tuesday.

Duterte revealed that he already has people in mind for the Bureau of Customs (BoC), Bureau of Internal revenue (BIR), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

Duterte previously described the BoC, BIR and LTO as the “most corrupt agencies” in the government and even said in jest that he was considering abolishing them. He had also labeled PDEA as a “useless” agency because of its supposed failure to curb the sale and distribution of illegal drugs.

Duterte, known for his tough talk and strong anti-crime campaign, had also said that he is eyeing former military men to lead the Bureau of Immigration and the Bureau of Corrections, which maintains the New Bilibid Prison.

Duterte said he has also offered the post of secretary to the cabinet to Maribojoc Mayor Leoncio Evasco Jr.

Previous reports said Evasco was being eyed as interior secretary, but Duterte said Evasco cannot occupy the post because he used to be a communist rebel.

Duterte is also considering appointing career officials as secretary of the health and science departments.

He said he has yet to decide on the list of cabinet nominees submitted by the Left. Duterte has expressed readiness to give four cabinet posts to people identified with the Communist Party of the Philippines, namely the secretaries of labor, agrarian reform, environment and social welfare.

“I said they (Left) will have a share of governance. It cannot be a coalition government. I’d be frank with you. I’d be placing the entire government in jeopardy because of the strong resistance from the military and the police. And it’s natural (for them to resist),” Duterte said.

“What I’m thinking about is if I could present to the Filipinos an all-inclusive, the (Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front) may also ask (for positions).

“But it will be inclusive when I am ready to concede a good number of government positions, but not the sensitive ones that have something to do with law and order,” he added.

Duterte stressed that he alone chooses the people who would become part of his Cabinet.

“I never consulted anybody for a particular position to any particular nominee,” he added.

Other people who will join the Duterte cabinet are Salvador Medialdea (executive secretary), Salvador Panelo (presidential spokesperson), Perfecto Yasay (foreign affairs), Arthur Tugade (transportation), Carlos Dominguez (finance), Emmanuel Piñol (agriculture), Mark Villar (public works), Silvestre Bello (labor), Vitaliano Aguirre (justice), Jesus Dureza (peace process), Ernesto Pernia (National Economic and Development Authority) and Alfonso Cusi (energy).

Other appointees who will handle key posts are Andrea Domingo (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. chairperson), Michael Diño (presidential assistant for the Visayas) and Jose Calida (solicitor-general). – With Edith Regalado

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