Senators defend Duterte's appointment of ex-soldiers, cops in gov't

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 31 2019 11:14 PM

MANILA - Senators on Wednesday defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s appointment of retired military and police officers after Sen. Richard Gordon voiced out his disapproval against it.

This, after Gordon said the "frequent" appointment of uniformed officials by Duterte was "dangerous" following the appointment of retired Lt.Gen. Emmanuel Salamat, former chief of the Armed Forces Northern Luzon Command, as Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System board member.

“Ang problema lang kay Presidente, mababaw ang bench nya. He comes from the province, hindi niya nakilala. So, mas nagre-rely siya sa military,” Gordon said in a statement.

“It’s a dangerous one because civilian authority must remain supreme over the military. Dapat 3 years muna bago ka i-appoint.. para mawala muna yung ties mo. The ties that bind,” he said.

In a text message sent to the media, Sen. Panfilo Lacson pointed out the President’s prerogative to appoint such individuals who Duterte feels can help the administration.

Such authority, he said, is enshrined in the Constitution.

“After all, if his appointees would fall short and fail to deliver, the ultimate responsibility lies in the president who will be accountable to the people,” said Lacson, a former Philippine National Police(PNP) chief.
 
Lacson said presidential appointees can be scrutinized by the Commission on Appointments, saying that judging an appointee based on one’s career is unwise.

“Without sounding biased since I also came from the AFP and the police, what if those appointees would also question the wisdom of appointing too many lawyers in government? What is important is the competence and integrity of those appointees and not their professional background,” Lacson said.

Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa agreed, saying Gordon's proposal to observe the three-year ban before appointing a retired officer is ineffective.

“If you want disconnection from the military organization, it will take you a lifetime,” said Dela Rosa, also a former PNP chief.

For Dela Rosa, Duterte’s appointment of military retirees is an actual indication “that he is not a weak nor ineffective leader”.

“Therefore, the threat of military take over is very remote,” he said.

“Civilian officers and retired military officers are both civilians so what is the rationale behind that 3-year ban? The moment a military officer retires from the service and hangs his uniform he reverts back to civilian status,” he added.

Sen. Grace Poe, meanwhile, said the President’s tapping of retired military and police officers should end with a question as to what can the appointee do after being appointed.

She cited Salamat, saying the retired general will be questioned if he could "deliver" upon assuming his post.

“Prerogatiba ng Pangulo, pero nais nating malaman kung meron bang karanasan si Salamat sa pamamalakad ng isang regulatory board, o di kaya kompitensya sa mga hamon ng water distribution… ano ang kanyang maiaambag?” Poe said.

Aside from Salamat, other retired military and police officers appointed by the President were:

  • Department of Information and Communications Technology
    Sec. Gregorio Honasan - former Philippine Army special forces
  • Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año – former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff
  • Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana – former Philippine Army chief
  • Department of Social Welfare and Development Sec. Rolando Bautista – former Philippine Army chief
  • Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu - former AFP chief of staff