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DOJ official appointed to BI

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte has appointed an official of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to the Bureau of Immigration (BI).

Militant groups and rights advocates, meanwhile, expressed alarm over the appointment of former military officials to the Cabinet.

Retired military and police officials, however, welcomed the President’s decision to appoint former members of the uniformed services to the Cabinet.

Duterte signed on Tuesday the transfer   of DOJ Assistant Secretary Aimee Torrefranca-Neri to the BI as associate commissioner.

Neri replaced former associate commissioner Michael Robles, one of the two BI officials dismissed last year for allegedly extorting P50 million from Chinese gaming tycoon Jack Lam.

Neri is a known women’s rights advocate before she was appointed by Duterte to the DOJ in August.

Last month, the President appointed former Antique board member Tobias Javier to the same position in the BI, replacing former associate commissioner Al Argosino, the other official dismissed over the Lam extortion controversy.

The appointments of Neri and Javier completed the BI board of commissioners. 

Generals in Cabinet

Having former military generals in the Cabinet may not help advance the ongoing peace talks between the government and the communist group, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said yesterday.

But for former defense secretary Renato de Villa, these former military and police officers could do a lot to help the current administration.

De Villa said these former – the four generals currently in the Duterte Cabinet are Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu, National Irrigation Administration chief Ricardo Visaya and current Armed Forces chief Gen. Eduardo Año, who was recently named chief of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

Last year, Duterte appointed retired general Emmanuel Bautista as NIA undersecretary.

Rights group Karapatan said the generals in the Duterte Cabinet might militarize the civilian bureaucracy and bring out more militarist and fascist policies that disregard the rights and welfare of peasants and indigenous communities.

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said Bautista was the main implementer of counter-insurgency program “Oplan Bayanihan,” which allegedly resulted in the killings of peasants and indigenous peoples.

Palabay said Año was implicated in the disappearance of activist Jonas Burgos in 2007, but was cleared by the Department of Justice in 2013.

The group said Cimatu was accused of accumulating ill-gotten wealth from the conversion of military funds under the Arroyo administration.

“How can pro-people policies be implemented if those appointed in key government posts have been proven to be rights violators themselves?” Palabay said. – With Jaime Laude, Rhodina Villanueva, Ghio Ong, Maureen Louise Simeon, Miriam Desacada

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