President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday that he would tap soldiers for the COVID-19 immunization program once a vaccine is available, a report from ABS-CBN said.
In a taped broadcast, Duterte said this would “remove partisan, favoritism; this will remove petty corruption.”
Duterte has been known to appoint former military generals to critical posts in his administration.
Duterte defended his decisions on this amid criticism about the “militarization” of the cabinet.
“When a military man retires, he is for all intents and purposes nothing but a civilian. And second, because I can rely on them. And third is because most of them are fundamentally honest,” Duterte said in comments in August last year.
Earlier, six former Armed Forces chief of staff and four officers who turned renegades are among former men in uniform appointed by Duterte to key civilian positions in his administration.
A Philippine National Police intelligence officer convicted for the abduction of a foreigner but eventually acquitted by the Supreme Court, a general who testified against fellow officers linked to the 2004 election fraud scandal, and a former PNP chief, who accused former President Benigno Aquino III of treason, have also also joined the government bureaucracy.
News agency Inquirer has listed 59 retired military generals, police directors, admirals and colonels who have been appointed to the Cabinet and other agencies, including government-owned corporations.
Many of them are either from Mindanao, or were assigned to Davao City where Mr. Duterte served as mayor for 22 years, Inquirer reported.
Duterte has named his military appointees to key roles in the country’s COVID-19 response.
Here are the former generals leading the country’s response to the COVID-19 crisis:
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, as Chair, National Task Force Against COVID-19.
Lorenzana has been with the Duterte Cabinet since the President assumed office in June 2016. He was the 2001 commander of the Philippine Army Special Operations Command.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, as Vice Chair, National Task Force Against COVID-19.
Año has been at the helm of the Department of the Interior and Local Government since January 2018 but only formally assumed office in November of the same year. He was a chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Peace Process Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., as COVID-19 policy chief implementer.
Galvez has been with the Duterte Cabinet since December 2018. He is also a former chief of staff of the military.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, as Cebu City COVID-19 Response Overseer.
Cimatu has been head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources since May 2017. He was also a chief of staff of the military.
The late dictator former President Ferdinand Marcos was known to reciprocate loyalty with juicy positions in government agencies and quasi institutions.
When Marcos declared martial law in 1972, he assigned select military to run civilian agencies.
The new assignments exposed the soldiers to “nonmilitary oriented” work, and encouraged many to pursue studies at the Asian Institute of Management and at the National Defense College of the Philippines where civilian and military competencies were merged.
This nonmilitary trademark of the military would continue even after the fall of Marcos.
The administrations of Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III named former men in uniform to key government agencies, the Inquirer said in its report./Stacy Ang, with reports from Inquirer and ABS-CBN