Duterte picks Briones for DepEd, Diokno for DBM

DAVAO CITY -- Incoming President Rodrigo Duterte is set to name more members to complete the incoming administration’s would-be Cabinet but announced on Saturday night he already offered positions to former National Treasurer Leonor Briones for the Department of Education (DepEd) and Benjamin Diokno for the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

On Tuesday, he promised to name more for the Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Land Transportation Office, Department of National Defense, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Science and Technology, and Department of Tourism.

For DOST, Duterte is eyeing someone from the ranks while for the Tourism - he is keen on retaining Ramon Jimenez in view of his good record.

Leonor Magtolis Briones, who was the former National Treasurer from 1998-2001 and Professor Emeritus of Public Administration at the National College of Public Administration & Governance (NCPAG) of the University of the Philippines-Diliman, has yet to make her final decision by Tuesday whether to accept Duterte’s offer.

Diokno, who is a professor of economics at the University of the Philippines, was the former secretary of DBM from 1998-2001 and the undersecretary for Budget Operations at the DBM from 1986-1991 during the administration of President Corazon Aquino.

Briones and Diokno, who both served the Estrada administration, are expected to meet with Duterte in Davao. Duterte said he cannot travel to Manila before the oath-taking because of prior commitments here so he offered to get tickets for their travel to Davao.

"I offered her the Secretary of Education portfolio," Duterte told reporters during an impromptu press conference at Hotel Elena on Saturday night.

With some issues on K-12 education system, Duterte said if Briones accepts the offer, he wants her to present recommendations on how to address gaps in the K-12 particularly on the marginalized students and the affected teachers.

"She is quite familiar with the problem we are facing with the implementation of K to 12. There will be a lot of students that will be marginalized or would not be able to enroll and a good number of teachers also who have lost their positions,” he said.

Duterte said he has also offered the DBM to Diokno, whom he said “the budget secretary of many presidents.” During the Aquino administration, Diokno provided technical assistance to several major reforms such as the design of the 1986 Tax Reform Program, which simplified income tax and introduced the value-added tax (VAT), and the 1991 Local Government Code of the Philippines. During the Estrada administration, Diokno initiated and instituted several reforms that would enhance transparency and improve the efficiency of the delivery of government services. The first major reform instituted was the "what you see is what you get" or WYSWIG policy that is a simplified system of fund release for the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

Duterte also blasted critics over “KKK” which stands for Kababayan, Kaklase, Kasama, for choosing Davaoeños, former classmates at San Beda College of Law, and friends who supported him in his presidential campaign.

“Nandito na naman sila (Here they come again) sloganeering…kaibigan (friend)…no such thing,” he quipped.

Duterte explained that being someone who comes from the province and his only time to go to Manila was to study, his sphere of influence or friends was only in the dormitory, school (San Beda College of Law), my brods (brothers in the fraternity) who are close to me.

“Wala akong nakilalang taga-Manila na smart o bogoc smart o torpe ang mga taong nakilala ko sa eskwelahan yung aming mga bright hanggang doon lang ako noon (I did not know anyone from Manila who is smart or unintelligent, smart or stupid. The people I knew in school were our bright people just up to there). Even when I was a congressman I was not socializing actually. So wala akong kakilala na itong mga looming genius sa government. Ang mga kilala ko mga brod ko, kababata ko na mahusay (So I don’t know anybody (who are) these looming genius in government. The people I know are my brods, my childhood friends who are good),” he added.

He further explained that he could not select from a larger portion of the population for the simple reason that his personal horizon or dimension is limited to school, dormitory and friends mostly from Davao.

For accusing him of choosing his former classmates, friends and supporters, Duterte said, “That’s a stupid allegation or an issue you raise…tingnan mo muna eh hindi kami mayaman hindi kami taga-Forbes (you look we are not rich we are not from the Forbes – referring to the posh community in Manila).”

Duterte said one should not appoint somebody “you do not trust… you have to know the person – know his character and his capacity…and his honesty,” he said.

Then he said, all his choices are his own and that Briones and Diokno are not even among his sphere of childhood friends. (PNA)
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