Analysts: Where are the women, youth in Duterte's Cabinet?

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 23 2016 01:15 AM | Updated as of May 23 2016 07:39 PM

'I thought it was going to be a Trudeau-like cabinet?' says UP Professor Jean Franco

MANILA (UPDATED) - Presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte’s picks for his administration look like a “team of rivals,” said one political analyst.

“It's a curious mix, a 'team of rivals' from various persuasions and backgrounds. I think, despite the criticism, it's fine that he has some 'old boys club' element because he has to signal stability, experience and predictability to jittery markets,” said De La Salle University-based political analyst Richard Heydarian, when asked what he thought of the prospective Duterte Cabinet.

READ: The Duterte Cabinet: All the President's men 

So far, those who have been endorsed to top government posts include names linked to the Ramos and Arroyo administrations, the family of former Senate President Manuel Villar, and even the Communist Party of the Philippines.

"The Leftists could, meanwhile, help with enduring inclusive development by helping in land reform, employment generation, and protection of indigenous community from mining interests," Heydarian added.

Heydarian pointed out that the former Arroyo Cabinet members also bring something to the table.

"They bring in experience and predictability. [Jesus] Dureza (peace process), Gibo (Teodoro for national defense), [Silvestre] Bello (negotiator for CPP-NDF-NDF peace talks), these guys are also well established in their fields and can help with improving the national security landscape."

Heydarian, however, believes that Duterte should also open his Cabinet to younger members, as well as to women.

“It's important Duterte opens up other cabinet posts to women and youth, to have a balanced, pluralistic cabinet," he said.


Meanwhile, University of the Philippines (UP) Professor Jean Franco agrees with Heydarian in saying that there should be more women in Duterte's Cabinet.

"Where are the women? I thought it was going to be a Trudeau-like cabinet? Presidential appointments are statements in themselves on where he wants to take the country so he must be very careful in keeping his promise of change," she said.

Franco also believes that Duterte's appointees should be willing to resign if they fail to deliver.

"Ernesto Pernia (for NEDA) is his best appointee so far. His expertise is on poverty and regional inequality issues so this is consistent with the Duterte message. While he needs people he can trust, it is important that people perceive that the search committee is working at the very least."

"I have no problems with kaklase (classmate) o kafrat (fraternity brother) but these people must be ready to resign when they are hurting his presidency and the country," Franco also said.


For his part, Professor Ranjit Rye said he wants to see an actual selection process for picking names for sensitive posts.

"A process should be followed that will privilege integrity, capacity, competence and character. His team should start linking up with the academic institutions such as UP and civil society orgs for inputs and assistance to draw up the incoming government's road map to development and governance reform," he said.

"While the process of choosing cabinet members is both a managerial and political process, our hope is that the incoming administration will realize their promise to hire people also on the basis of merit and fitness," Rye added.

Just the same, Rye thinks the country’s next president will handle the transition well.

"On the whole, I am optimistic that the incoming government will be able to manage the transition process," he said.

Duterte has begun to build a new government, drawing from his kababayans in the south, his classmates from San Beda College of Law, and friends who actively supported him in his presidential campaign.

As of Sunday, majority of his would-be appointees to executive branch offices (excluding the PNP and AFP) are senior citizens, with only Mark Villar being below 50. Only a handful are below 60.

It's also a predominantly male Cabinet, with only one woman, Andrea Domingo (PAGCOR chief), having been named so far.


University of the Philippines Political Science Professor Aries Arugay, meanwhile, said Cabinet choices rest on trust.

"They are extensions/alter-egos of the President. Trudeau's Cabinet was heavily influenced by his party which Trudeau cannot completely influence. This is not the same context as the Philippines," Arugay said.

"Also, the way Cabinet members function depends on the leadership style of the President. Duterte might be hands-on on some Cabinet portfolio than on others so some secretaries will have less flexibility than others," he said. "I have a hunch he will be interventionist on some portfolios (infrastructure, health, etc.) than others (economy, foreign policy)."

He said one should look at whether the Cabinet members can work as a team. "There were times when even excellent/competent/credible Cabinet secretaries fail because they cannot work together (factionalism)."

"Finally, gender is only one dimension of diversity. What about others? Trudeau's Cabinet had ethnic minorities like a Sikh general as defense minister. A lot of the Cabinet ministers come from Davao - isn't this a good thing? We must transcend tokenism and look at the Cabinet as a whole," he said.