Militarizing the Cabinet?
PRESIDENT RODRIGO Duterte has appointed several military men, retired and incumbent, to key positions in his administration. Several of his predecessors, including the late President Cory Aquino, had done the same thing. Should the practice be cause for concern?
GMA-7 reporter Sandra Aguinaldo asked precisely this question on 24 Oras on May 22. The report, “Retired Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, itinalagang MMDA chairman,” noted that Lim was the Duterte administration’s eleventh appointee from the military so far. Of the 11, five are former chiefs of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP): Roy Cimatu, as Environment and Natural Resources secretary; Hermogenes Esperon as National Security Adviser; Ricardo Visaya as head of the National Irrigation Administration; incumbent AFP chief Eduardo Año as Interior and Local Government secretary; and Emmanuel Bautista, Executive Director of the Cluster for Security, Justice and Peace under the Office of the President.
The other former top military men in the Duterte administration are Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana; Alexander Balutan at the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office; Ricardo Jalad in the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council; Nicanor Faeldon at the Bureau of Customs; and Jason Aquino at the National Food Authority.
In her report, Aguinaldo sought out political analyst Prof. Bobby Tuazon of the Center for People Empowerment in Governance for his insights on the question. Tuazon observed that the increasing number of military men in the Duterte administration had its downside – their style of management, he said, is to follow orders. Tuazon said that the recruitment of the new appointees could be a means to keep them loyal; but he hoped that they would bring some “re-engineering” and “retooling” to their positions. The report also cited the book We Were Soldiers: Military Men in Politics and the Bureaucracy by Glenda Gloria, which records the number of military top brass who were tapped to serve in previous administrations.
Appointments to critical posts in the bureaucracy should be a matter of public interest. Media’s efforts to probe particular appointments and their implications are laudable, for they encourage the public to examine and to question the choices made by the commander in chief.