DAVAO CITY (2nd UPDATE) - Presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday named his presidential campaign manager, Leoncio 'Jun' Evasco Jr., 72, as his Secretary to the Cabinet.
Speaking to reporters, Duterte said the Secretary to the Cabinet post suits Evasco better. The outgoing, three-term Maribojoc town mayor was earlier offered to lead the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) but he declined.
Duterte said the DILG post may not suit Evasco given his past as a communist rebel.
“He would not qualify for DILG. Evasco is a former communist. Kapag inilagay mo sa DILG, under niya ang pulis, mainit ang pulis sa kanya… Until you are able to--maareglo natin ang Pilpinas and we learn to live as brother, it will be the time for us to forget our individual ideology--hindi talaga pwede,” he said.
Duterte said putting Evasco in the DILG may not sit well with the police.
“Ang DILG, pulis, hindi magsunod sa kanya… Preso nila yan tapos mag-salute sa kanya? Those are the nuances. He cannot be the DILG (secretary). I cannot remove the police from DILG because that’s the law. Sinong maniwala sa kanya sa pulis? Punta siya doon sa (Camp) Crame pagalitan niya? Baka mabaril pa siya doon,” he said.
Duterte, however, admitted he “does not know” yet if Evasco has accepted his new offer.
Evasco earlier rejected the first assignment, saying he was not interested in any Cabinet post.
“To be nominated or shortlisted for the secretary of interior and local government would be a great honor for me, since not all will be given the chance to lead the department,” Evasco said in a statement posted on Facebook.
“I would like to clarify that I am not, and will not be interested in any Cabinet post. I will always be grateful for the offer, and I will always serve our newly elected president and the Filipino people in some other way, based on my capacity and skills.”
Evasco was Duterte's campaign manager in the elections. An ex-priest-turned-rebel, Evasco was Duterte’s chief of staff in Davao City for a long time before he ran for mayor of Maribojoc, Bohol in 2007.
After Duterte's rape-remark controversy during the campaign homestretch, Evasco came to his defense. "For all his much talked about womanizing ways, he has a very soft heart towards women who are assaulted, raped and killed," he said in a Facebook post.
"I have known Mayor Duterte as a public official probably the most than anyone, having served him as chief of staff while he was still an appointed vice mayor in 1986 – a good 30 years ago. Add another year or 2 when he was a prosecutor trying to lock me behind bars of the martial law regime because I joined the anti-Marcos dictatorship mass movement. I have seen him take the risk and the road less traveled in the course of his dedicated public service," Evasco said.
"I can count to you how many rape cases he personally attended to and take with extreme unction. His ‘little town’ reputation, unguarded and unrehearsed manners may offend those who are taught how our national leaders should act, behave and speak. They may find him uncouth, abrasive, and even repulsive. Because that is how the elitists are trying to impose their myopic rules on all our people. Duterte is not in this elitist circle and he is definitely out-of-the-box."
Evasco started working for Duterte in Davao City in 1989. He served as his chief of staff from 1998 to 2004 and was Officer-in-Charge of the Davao City Engineer's Office from 2004 to 2007.
Duterte has served Davao City in various capacities since 1986 when he was appointed OIC vice-mayor during the Cory Aquino administration.
Evasco took up Philosophy and Theology at the Seminario Mayor de San Carlos in Cebu City and had his graduate studies at the Ateneo de Davao University.
GIBO DECLINES DEFENSE POST
Meanwhile, Duterte also revealed that 2010 presidential aspirant Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. declined the offer to return to the Department of National Defense (DND).
“Tumanggi talaga siya. Nakita mo pawis na pawis ang mama nung nagharap kami. Maybe ayaw talaga,” he said.
Duterte indicated that his and Teodoro’s supposedly opposing views on mining had something to do with the latter’s decision.
“I just think that he is into the mining business. Alam na niya ang galit ko sa mining, na those who operated the mining areas destroyed the environment,” Duterte said.
However, Teodoro has denied that he had declined the invitation of handling the defense portfolio anew, saying he is still studying Duterte's offer.
Teodoro, who is chairman of a mining company, was among the dignitaries, politicians and well-wishers who visited Duterte in Davao City last Monday, May 16.
"I was surprised. I thought we would just meet and I would offer my congratulations. But then (Las Piñas representative) Mark Villar and me were offered the post," Teodoro told reporters.
Teodoro had said he gave no commitment to Duterte, asking for time to think about it. Villar will be appointed Department of Public Works and Highways secretary.
"I answered that it's not a decision I can make alone. I have to consult my family and a lot of commitments I had and have made, and I will have to come back to him with a decision," Teodoro said.
Teodoro was Tarlac representative before becoming secretary of the DND under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
He had been out of the limelight after he ran and lost the race for the presidency in 2010 as Arroyo's anointed successor under the Lakas-Kampi-CMD party.