Duterte convenes Cabinet in Manila

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 15 2016 08:45 PM | Updated as of Jun 16 2016 05:05 AM

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte convenes his cabinet at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila.

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - President-elect Rodrigo Duterte convened his Cabinet in the capital for the first time on Wednesday, as he prepared to assume office at the end of the month.

Dressed casually in a cotton shirt and jeans, Duterte met with his secretaries at the Philippine International Convention Center.

Speaking to reporters after the 5-hour meeting, incoming Palace communications chief Martin Andanar said Duterte met with his Cabinet members by clusters before meeting them as a whole.

''He met the whole group. We had to be in one room so we could also chat so we could also familiarize with each other,'' Andanar said.

Ernesto Abella, the newest spokesperson of Duterte, said the gathering was a "simple, informal meeting."

"There was an introduction of new appointees," he said. "The whole meeting was basically about hearing from the various secretaries so that the incoming administration would be able to be more systematic and more coordinate and the departments would not act as silos."

Abella said Duterte has not issued official marching orders to the incoming Cabinet, as the gathering only aimed to acquaint the members of the Cabinet who come from various sectors and political leanings.

"Nothing official at this stage. It was basically creating an agreement between the secretaries and President to streamline the efforts, to make sure everything works not just separately, but as a complete, working system," he added. "There are no policies at this stage, nothing is fixed. Everything has to be finalized."

"(The meeting was) light, it was very transparent, very encouraging. The president was very informal and direct to the point," he said.

Duterte and his incoming Cabinet secretaries will hold another meeting one week before the inauguration on June 30, Abella said.

Before proceeding to the PICC, Duterte attended the wake of congressman Enrique Garcia Jr. in Bataan province, a short helicopter ride away from the PICC.

The meeting was closed to media coverage. Duterte had declared a "boycott" on the press, whom he accused of misinterpreting his statement on journalists' killings. 

Duterte won the May 9 elections with a vow to wage a "bloody war" against crime. He has also unveiled an eight-point plan to grow the economy, which includes revamping the tax system and spurring investments in agriculture and tourism. 

Wednesday's cabinet meeting marked the first time Duterte returned to the capital since his final campaign rally on May 7. He has stayed mostly in Davao, a southern metropolis that he ruled as mayor for over two decades.