MANILA - President-elect Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday justified appointing former classmates and childhood friends to different Cabinet positions, saying that he has a "small sphere of influence" to pick from.
Speaking to reporters, Duterte said it is important for a president to appoint people he trusts.
"A Cabinet member is an alter ego of the president, so he must be one whom I trust, whom I am confident that I can work well," he said.
Duterte added that as a "probinsiyano," he has few options.
"Sinasabi nila, kababayan, kasama, kabarkada. No, they are not. Hindi ko kabarkada. You know why? Probinsiyano ako. Ang sphere of influence ko, or my comfort zone is really Davao City. At sa Davao City, magkakakilala kami. Then nagpunta akong Maynila, nasa dormitoryo ako. So ang karamihan ng close sa akin... I do not attend parties. I was never asked to join any debut-debut, despidida diyan sa mayayaman. Hanggang sine lang ako pati canteen," he said.
"Tapos after a while, umuwi na naman ako dito. So ang nakilala ko 'yung mga classmate ko, pati 'yung mga brod ko, pati 'yung mga San Beda pati taga-Davao. So 'yun 'yung crowd ko. I can only pluck the membership of the Cabinet from a small area," Duterte also said.
He also justified appointing those who have previously held Cabinet positions, adding that these people have already proven themselves.
"Si Secretary Diokno, hindi naman kailangan (na kababayan) 'yan kasi he has been secretary and he's good. Bilib ako sa kanya. Kaya nandiyan siya. Secretary Briones, by herself, she's an institution. So why do I have to go around picking people na ano," Duterte said.
As he started building his administration, Duterte drew from his kababayans in the south, his classmates from San Beda College of Law, and friends who actively supported him in his presidential campaign.
Early appointees such as incoming peace process adviser Jesus Dureza, incoming foreign affairs secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., incoming transportation and communications secretary Arthur Tugade, and incoming justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II were Duterte's college friends and classmates, while incoming finance secretary Carlos Dominguez is Duterte's childhood friend.
[Duterte on Cabinet: 'They are men of honesty, integrity']