KORONADAL CITY – Four leaders from the provinces of North Cotabato, Maguindanao and South Cotabato were among the alter-egos of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.
Foremost among the four was incoming Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol who, after his appointment was made public, immediately embarked on “Biyaheng Bukid” across the archipelago.
The “Biyaheng Bukid” aims to solicit insights from farmers on how the government can best serve them, Piñol said.
Former South Cotabato Gov. Esmael “Mike” Sueno will head the Department of Interior and Local Government, one of the most important Cabinet posts because it has direct supervision over local government units and the Philippine National Police and its attached agencies.
Named Defense Secretary is retired Army Scout Ranger Gen. Miguel Delfin Lorenzana, and Ricardo Jalad who was named chair of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), are both from Parang, Maguindanao.
Ex-seminarians from the Cotabato Archdiocesan Seminary and priests of the Archdiocese of Cotabato should be proud because one of them is among Duterte’s Cabinet members. Jalad is an ex-seminarian of the Archdiocese of Cotabato seminary.
The people of Midsayap in North Cotabato should also be proud because one of their own was named Bureau of Immigration chief, retired Police Chief Supt. Jaime Morente. Morente was acting PNP Director for Personnel and Records Management before he retired.
Retired police Director Isidro Lapeña, who served as Cotabato City police director in early 1990s, was named Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) director.
However, no Muslim or member of Indigenous Peoples has been named in Duterte’s Cabinet as of yet.
Sueno, PDP-Laban national chairperson, said he did not expect the incoming President would name him to lead DILG.
“I was on vacation with my family in Talikud islands when I received a call from Duterte’s staff telling me to be present in a meeting in Panacan, Davao City,” Sueno said Wednesday.
“I obliged and went there Monday,” the former South Cotabato governor who campaigned hard for Duterte prior to May 9 polls.
“Then, as I entered the so-called Malacanang of the South, I was asked to sign in an attendance sheet, then I saw my name beside the word DILG,” Sueno told DXOM-AM Radyo Bida.
“At first I was reluctant but Duterte told me ‘Mike, I will help you,’” Sueno added.
After Duterte emerged as the winner in last month’s polls, Sueno thought he will be given a Cabinet portfolio.
“If I had my way, I wanted to be named agriculture secretary but Duterte appointed Manny Piñol,” he said, adding that since DA has been filled, he aspired to be appointed as National Irrigation Administrator chief.
“Big challenge for me, his marching orders for me to cleanse the police ranks, change is indeed coming,” Sueno said. He added Duterte also named an undersecretary who will focus on the PNP.
Duterte designated retired Special Action Force Chief Catalino Cuy who will supervise the national police.
As DILG secretary, Sueno said Duterte has “three specific marching orders for me.” He said the President wanted to put a stop to local government officials’ practice of holding seminars, conferences and the like outside the province they belonged.
“Duterte also wanted a total stop to ‘Lakbay-Aral’ and study how to solve the problem of misuse of intelligence funds of LGUs.