SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

Presumptive president Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr., BBM for short, is crossing party lines in choosing members of his Cabinet, according to an insider in BBM’s inner circle.

My source said BBM will reach out to his erstwhile rivals – meaning Leni Robredo, Isko Moreno, Manny Pacquiao and Panfilo Lacson – to ask them to recommend people who will become a part of his Cabinet.

The presumptive president and his presumptive vice president, Sara Duterte Carpio, will talk to the opposition, to carry out their campaign promise of uniting the country should they win.

The elections just past had made the Philippines a riven nation.

My humble suggestions:

• BBM may want to appoint technocrats who are experts in their respective fields – instead of close friends or college classmates – as Cabinet secretaries and bureau directors.

• Close friends, town mates, classmates or school mates would likely abuse their positions or become lazy, as they tend to feel entitled.

• Appointing former enemies or complete strangers is a bright idea, as they would try to prove themselves worthy of the appointing power’s trust and confidence.

For example, BBM might consider Lorenzo Villanueva Tan, president and CEO of House of Investments Inc. of the Yuchengco Group of Companies, as finance secretary.

Tan was president of United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB), Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. (RCBC) and Sunlife of Canada (Philippines) Inc. and Philippine National Bank (PNB).

He turned the PNB around from bankruptcy in 2005 by hiring highly qualified officials from other banks, thereby creating a strong management team.

“BBM should put together a Cabinet like his Dad’s: Leaders with overseas education or overseas experience. We need global exposure to access global capital markets and address geopolitical issues. There are a lot of problems to address,” said Tan in a text message to this columnist.

For the position of secretary of national defense, BBM may want to appoint a civilian instead of a retired general, following the principle of civilian supremacy over the military.

Retired generals tend to hire their former colleagues in the service, creating a “buddy-buddy” and warlike atmosphere in the Department of National Defense (DND).

Robert McNamara was president of Ford Motors before accepting his appointment as US defense chief. Spanning two administrations – John F. Kennedy’s and Lyndon B. Johnson’s – McNamara was considered one of the best defense secretaries.

Here at home, Johnny Ponce Enrile, Orly Mercado and Gibo Teodoro, all civilians, were exemplary defense secretaries.

Bongbong Marcos may consider appointing Dr. Miguel A. Ramos Jr. for his health secretary.

Unlike current Health Secretary Francisco Duque, Ramos is non-partisan, as he is a practicing doctor. He is presently director of the Geriatric Center of St. Luke’s Medical Center.

Ramos knows how the government works, because he used to be a consultant for the Department of Health and was the deputy hospital chief of the Dr. Eva Macaraeg Macapagal National Center for Geriatric Health.

In choosing the next AFP or PNP chief, BBM may want to break the chain of appointing graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).

The PMA does not have a monopoly of people with brains and leadership suitable for the job. There are other officers as good as – if not better than – graduates of the premier military school.

BBM may consider non-PMAers or those whose source of commission came from the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) but became integrated into the service because of their exemplary leadership or valor in combat.

Many graduates of the ROTC program are much more articulate in English than PMAyers because of their exposure to the language in school. Because of their middle class upbringing, they have refined manners fit to be called officers and gentlemen/ladies.

Colin Powell, chairman of the joint staff of the US armed forces, was not a graduate of West Point. He came from the ROTC program of the City College of New York.

Colin later became secretary of state under President George W. Bush.

Why should the PNP chief always come from the PMA when there are other more deserving officers, such as graduates of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA)?

The tradition of choosing PMA graduates as AFP or PNP chief deprives other officers who are non-PMAers from the plum posts.

A blatant example of a PNP general who was not appointed PNP chief because he was an ROTC graduate from the University of Sto. Tomas was the late Marcelo Ele Jr.

Ele was a lawyer, helicopter pilot, sportsman and multi-awarded officer who would have become one of the best PNP chiefs.

Ele planned and executed the much-publicized raid on the tiangge (open-air market) of methamphetamine hydrochloride, known in the US as crystal meth and here as shabu, in February 2006. The shabu tiangge, a one-hectare compound, was within spitting distance from the Pasig City Hall.

(My brother Erwin and this columnist – ahem! – tipped off the PNP about the presence of the open-air market of crystal meth through our network of informants.)

BBM may want to do away with the “revolving door” policy in appointing an AFP or PNP chief.

The term “revolving door” here means appointing officers nearing their retirement age, so they stay for only several months in office before being replaced by other officers who are also approaching retirement.

The AFP and PNP chiefs should serve for at least two years, so they can introduce changes in the organizations during their tenure.

BBM may consider Brig. Gen. Ricardo Layug, a member of PNPA Class 1993, as PNP chief when he takes over the country’s helm.

Layug, director of the PNP Engineering Service, would have two years in the organization before he steps down at the mandatory retirement age of 56.

Appointing Layug may be BBM’s way of expressing gratitude to the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), which voted as a bloc for his candidacy.


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