Duterte defends appointment of ex-soldiers

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New assignment President Rodrigo Duterte congratulates outgoing Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Rolando Bautista Jr. during the change of command rites. The President has tapped Bautista to head the Department of Social Welfare and Development. YUMMIE DINGDING

President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday defended his appointments of ex-military men to the bureaucracy.

Duterte recently named newly retired Philippine Army (PA) chief Rolando Bautista Jr. as incoming Social Welfare secretary, making him the 60th appointee to the Duterte Cabinet from the military.

“When I appoint you, it’s not about friendship. It has nothing to do with that. Now let me just make it clear to everybody,” Duterte said during the Army Change of Command and Retirement Ceremony at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City on Monday night.

He said many people close to him, including some ambassadors, have asked why he keeps choosing former military or police to civilian posts.

Duterte said he chose to appoint them because “they are honest and competent.”

“I was not elected by the military. I was not elected by the police. I was elected by the Filipino people. You have your mandate, I have mine. If we can agree on so many things, good. If not, then I’m sorry. I have to make decisions that are really very hard. That’s all,” he added.

Replacing Bautista, who reached the mandatory retirement age of 56, as PA commanding general is Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Maj. Gen. Macairog Alberto.

Bautista will take over the helm of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) left by Judy Taguiwalo for over a year now after failing to get the nod of the Commission on Appointments.

“I was looking for an honest and competent guy and I choose Rolly Bautista to be the next DSWD secretary,” the President said.

Before Bautista, other former high-ranking officials from the Armed Forces and Philippine National Police (PNP) appointed by Duterte to Cabinet positions are Secretaries Roy Cimatu (Environment); Eduardo Año (Interior Undersecretary-OIC); Eduardo del Rosario (chair of Housing and Bangon Marawi Task Force); Commissioner Isidro Lapeña (Customs) and Glorioso Miranda (Bases Conversion and Development Authority).

In the same event, the Chief Executive tagged the Philippine Army as “professional workforce that is stronger, more empowered and even more dependable.” He urged the entire Army organization to support its new commander as the country continues to deal with threats and challenges to its security.

“I also ask our troops to support the leadership of General Alberto as we sustain the gains of our reforms.”

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