INTERCOURSE | Rhoderick Maquirang TecsonI really do not have issues against individuals who get appointed to certain government positions by the president. It’s a presidential prerogative based on trust and on who the sitting leader can work well.

What I can’t understand though is the practice in our country by any president of appointing former military men in civilian cabinet positions.

It’s as if a Philippine National Police chief or Armed Forces Chief of Staff or any deputy position is a step and assurance of getting a cabinet portfolio upon retirement.

The issue is not even militarization as the left would always generalize as I don’t see an armed struggle happening in these departments. It is more on the qualifications and leadership capabilities.

I don’t intend to question the capabilities of these military men but seriously are there no more other outstanding civilians in their field who are equally or more than capable to handle such positions?

Let me enumerate a few names past and present while some have been re-appointed to other positions. The former uniformed personnel in civilian positions are:

1. Roberto Lastimoso — chair, Philippine National Railways

2. Miguel dela Cruz Abaya — director, Development Bank of the Philippines

3. Delfin Lorenzana — secretary, Department of National Defense (DND)

4. Francisco Villaroman — director, Clark Development Corp. (CDC)

5. Alex Monteagudo — director general, National Intelligence Coordination Agency

6. Hermogenes Esperon Jr. — director general, National Security Council (NSC)

7. Roy Cimatu — secretary, Department of Environment and Natural Resources

8. Benjamin Defensor — director, CDC

9. Ricardo David — undersecretary, DND

10. Emmanuel Bautista — executive director, Office of the Executive Director on Security, Justice and Peace Cluster

11. Ricardo Visaya — administrator, National Irrigation Administration

12. Jason Aquino — administrator, National Food Authority

13. Nicanor Faeldon — commissioner, Bureau of Customs

14. Danilo Lim — chair, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority

15. Eduardo “Red” Kapunan — ambassador to Myanmar

16. Catalino Cuy — officer in charge and undersecretary for peace and order, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)

17. Nestor Quinsay Jr. — assistant secretary, DILG

18. Arthur Tabaquero — undersecretary, Presidential Adviser on Military Affairs

19. Rufino Lopez — deputy director general, NSC

20. Cardozo Luna — undersecretary, DND

21. Eduardo del Rosario — undersecretary for civil, veterans and retiree affairs, DND

22. Raymundo Elefante — undersecretary for finance and materiel, DND

23. Cesar Yano — undersecretary for defense operations, DND

24. Ricardo Jalad — administrator, Office of Civil Defense (OCD); executive director, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council

25. Marciano Paynor Jr. — undersecretary, Office of the President (OP)

26. Ernesto Carolina — administrator, Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO)

27. Raul Caballes — deputy administrator, PVAO

28. Rodolfo Demosthenes Santillan — deputy administrator for operations, OCD

29. Jonathan Martir — government arsenal director, DND

30. Anselmo Simeon Pinili — special envoy on transnational crime, OP

31. Allan Guisihan — executive director, Philippine Center on Transnational Crime

32. Dickson Hermoso — assistant secretary for peace and security affairs, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process

33. Edgar Galvante — assistant secretary, Land Transportation Office

34. Isidro Lapeña — director general, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)

35. Jesus Fajardo — deputy director general for administration, PDEA

36. Jaime Morente — commissioner, Bureau of Immigration

37. Eduardo Gongona — national director, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources

38. Jose Jorge Corpuz — chair, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO)

39. Alexander Balutan — general manager, PCSO

40. Reynaldo Berroya — administrator, Light Rail Transit Authority

41. Rodolfo J. Garcia — general manager, Metro Rail Transit 3

42. Reuben Lista — president and CEO, Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC)

43. Oscar Rabena — director, PNOC-Exploration Corp.

44. Bruce Concepcion — director, PNOC

45. Adolf Borje — director, PNOC

46. Alan Luga — trustee, Government Service Insurance System

47. Ferdinand Golez — director, Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA)

48. Romeo Poquiz — director, BCDA

49. Raul Urgello — director, Philippine Sugar Corp.

50. Abraham Bagasin — director, John Hay Management Corp. (JHMC)

51. Reynald Mapagu — director, North Luzon Railway Corp.

52. Michael Mellijor Tulen — director, Philippine National Railways

53. Roberto Estioko — president, National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP)

54. Rolando Jungco — executive vice president, NDCP

55. Jessie Cardona — technical assistant, Office of the Executive Secretary-AntiTerrorism Council-Program Management Center

56. Jim Sydiongco — director general, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP)

57. Manuel Antonio Tamayo — deputy director general, CAAP

58. Eduardo Davalan — director, JHMC

59. Eduardo Año — Secretary, DILG (PDI, Duterte hires 59 former AFP, PNP men to Cabinet, agencies)

The list may have gone further and increased today as the report was published last year.

I’d like to pick a few agencies for purposes of discussion. The National Food Authority (NFA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for example.

There are certainly several educated and experienced food and environmental experts who definitely have the required specific expertise to manage the said departments and interpret policies according to the challenges of times. This is not to say that these military men are incapable but it’s like saying allowing a mechanic manage a brain problem of a patient when there are a lot of medical experts who can very well attend to the needs of the brain patient.

In most recent memory, as if adding more insult to injury, President Rodrigo Duterte appointed the embattled former military man Isidro Lapena who heads the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to head the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Seriously. Seriously?

Lapena recently got involved in a very sensitive drug issue. The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) insisted of having positively identified an illegal drug shipment within the turf of BOC headed by Lapena. Lapena denied it and dismissed the information coming from PDEA until a Customs official publicly declared that she saw the x-ray results of the alleged drug shipment and admitted that she informed Lapena who did not take any action but denied that there was indeed illegal drugs in the so-called magnetic lifters. Duterte made a pronouncement that there is no truth to the illegal drugs inside the lifters.

Suddenly, feeling the severe heat of the kitchen, Lapena changed tones. He conceded that there was indeed illegal drugs inside the magnetic lifters now valued by PDEA to P11 billion.

Duterte who is know for his bloody anti-illegal drugs campaign has become meek as lamb. He ordered the relief of Lapena from BOC to head TESDA.

To say that Duterte is the real drug protector is a gargantuan accusation. To declare that Lapena is involve in the illegal drug trade would be libelous and would entail another space to substantiate and discuss.

Suspicious is the right word. However, that is not the case for me to argue. Duterte is answerable to the 16 million Filipinos who were victims to the massive social media propaganda of the Mindanao Group.

My sentiment is very simple. What in the world is the expertise of Lapena to head TESDA?

Wanda Teo the former Tourism Secretary who got involved in a controversy over onerous contracts of her brothers with her agency was fired by Duterte. The amount is less than P100 million.