MANILA - Former President Fidel V. Ramos believes naming former men in uniform to government positions is not a political move by President Rodrigo Duterte to gain support from the military.
In an interview with ANC's Headstart Tuesday, Ramos said there was nothing unusual with Duterte's move, citing trends in foreign service appointments.
"The remaining 50 percent is for the non-career—could be the military who are non-career. There are some military who are career because they left early, took exams, and passed it, then climbed on the ladder," he said.
Ramos added, former military officials should only be assigned to government posts where their expertise is needed.
"If the new post or foreign post to which he’s being assigned has military problems, sure, send a military guy with much experience," he said, adding that this is what former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff and retired general Roy Cimatu in his new job.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday announced that Cimatu is now a member of his Cabinet. Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella later said that Cimatu, who served as chief of staff of the military in 2002, is the special envoy for OFW refugees.
Ramos explained that he, too, had to assign a retired general to Cambodia during his term because "there were a lot of killings in Cambodia."
Ramos however maintained that military background is not important for the government agencies.
"I don’t know these younger people, I’m sorry about that. They may be as qualified as anybody else, but you are right, civilians take over civilian jobs," he said.
"What is important is to have a Philippine team where you can avail of the expertise of a military retiree on intelligence matters, for instance," he added.
Ramos also stressed that the former uniformed officials have to go through rigorous background check before they may be given government portfolio.
"What kind of training did you undergo? What experience did you go through? If you are a military ex-police and who went through these EJKS, alleged killings, you won’t go; you’re not qualified," he said.
Earlier this month, a group of government employees scored the administration for hiring former men in uniform for civilian positions, which they called "militarization of the bureaucracy."
Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage) said Duterte's statement that he preferred former military personnel because civilians are "lazy" is disappointing.
Notably, Duterte, during his first few months in office, visited some major military camps across the nation, promising modernization of equipment, salary increases, and even Christmas gifts.
Duterte also visited and awarded some soldiers wounded in action in hospitals or personally offered his condolences to the bereaved of the fallen soldiers.
When he lost confidence on the police in delivering his anti-drug drive after at kidnap-slay of a Korean businessman, Duterte turned to the military for support.