Duterte on Cabinet post for Leni: That never entered my mind

by Alexis Romero

Source: Philippine Star

DAVAO CITY – Incoming president Rodrigo Duterte has yet to decide whether to offer a Cabinet post to presumptive vice president Leni Robredo, saying he is still trying to find positions for trusted people who helped him win the election.

“That never entered my mind,” Duterte said Saturday night when asked if he would give Robredo a Cabinet position.

“(There are) party guys loyal to me all along, and maybe who are also — in a way, or who were, for one reason or another — a factor in my win in the presidency. I shouldn’t be looking beyond my borders yet,” he added.

Robredo was the runningmate of Liberal Party standard-bearer and former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II. During the campaign period, Robredo said she wants to coordinate and consolidate the government’s anti-poverty programs if elected vice president.

Duterte said he does not socialize that much and that he had limited sphere of friends when he was still studying. He said that explains why he prefers to be surrounded by people he can trust.

“When I was a congressman, I wasn’t socializing actually. In the government, my acquiantances were my (brothers in the fraternity) and my childhood friends who are brilliant,” the next Philippine leader said.

“I could not have selected from a larger portion of the population for the simple reason that my horizon or the dimension of my personality is limited –school dorm, friends, (fraternity) brothers, that’s all. The rest are from Davao,” he added.

When asked if he is implying that Robredo would not be appointed to the Cabinet, Duterte replied:  “No. I’m trying to explain first my response or retort to accusations that I gave posts to my classmates and friends. That’s just a very stupid allegation.”

“Look, I’m not rich. I’m not from Forbes (Park) and I am not from Ateneo, La Salle or UP (University of the Philippines). You don’t appoint somebody you don’t trust, but you have to also know the person or how long have you known the person to know enough his character,” he added.

Pressed if he and Robredo already talked, Duterte said: “Hindi nga! hindi ko nga kilala yan eh, sa totoo lang (No! In fact, I don’t really know her).”

He added that no meeting has been scheduled between him and the incoming vice president.

“I said I am busy. Why would I be in an awkward position when I am not ready to offer anything to her?” Duterte said.

Reminded that his camp previously expressed openness to give Robredo a cabinet post, Duterte replied: “If it’s just an opening of an opportunity, it would come later, it doesn’t mean to say that the door is open and there’s already a job waiting.”

“It’s an opportunity or chance, maybe we could talk of having a good rapport. In the meantime, we don’t know each other yet,” he added.

In an interview before of Leni Robredo, she mentioned that it would be hard for her to work with Duterte.

More appointments out Tuesday

Duterte also told reporters on Saturday that he wants to appoint former National Treasurer Leonor Briones as Education secretary and economist Benjamin Diokno as Budget secretary. If Diokno accepts Duterte’s offer, he would be returning to the post he held during the Estrada administration.

“Leonor Briones, who used to be the national treasurer, I offered her the secretary of Education because she’s quite familiar with the problems we’re facing,” Duterte said.

“Because of the implementation of K to 12 (program), there will be a lot of students that will be marginalized or would not be able to enroll and a good number of teachers (will also) lose their positions so it would be 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 majority of his Cabinet members on Tuesday, May 31.

The next Philippine leader also revealed that he already has people in mind for the Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Land Transportation Office.

Duterte previously described the BoC, BIR and LTO as the “most corrupt agencies” in the government and even joked that he is 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.


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