Incoming Social Welfare Secretary Rolando Bautista, a retiring army chief, is the newest on the list of military men the president has appointed as top officials.
The position has been vacant since the appointment of Judy Taguiwalo was rejected by the Commission of Appointments last year.
This development met the ire of some groups, especially left-leaning ones, that observed President Rodrigo Duterte’s alleged militarization of of his Cabinet by filling the seats with former military officials.
“Duterte’s rapidly turning his cabinet after the image of his idol Marcos’ dictatorial government,” Anakbayan Secretary General Einstein Recedes said.
The Kabataan party-list slammed it as a tactic to support allegations of ouster plots.
“This is what ‘Red October’ really is—a calibrated effort by Duterte and the army to sow fear, set the pretext for declaring martial law, and launch heightened attacks on the people,” the group said on Facebook.
At the @DSWDserve MIMAROPA consultation dialogue with CSOs. They’re updating on the Duterte plan to have a military person head DSWD come October. More than 20,000 social workers in the Philippines and he can’t choose one to lead agency? Crazy.
— Ami E Swanepoel (@amievangelista) October 9, 2018
Duterte, in a speech on Tuesday, repeated his reason for the appointment of former soldiers to senior civilian positions. They know how to follow orders, he said.
His defense secretary shares the belief. “This may make the job of the DSWD convergent or complementary to what the military and police are doing or vice versa,” Delfin Lorenzana said.
Club of generals
In April, Duterte appointed retired AFP Chief of Staff Rey Leonardo Guerrero to head the Maritime Industry Authority, an agency that oversees the country’s maritime industry.
In May, former military chief Gen. Roy Cimatu became the head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Former AFP Brigadier General Danilo Lim was also appointed that time to lead the Metro Manila Development Authority.
Earlier this year, two more former AFP officers were appointed to top government positions:
- Gen. Glorioso Miranda as a board member of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority
- Gen. Eduardo Año as the new secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government
A more comprehensive list of names indicates that Duterte has appointed at least 60 former military officials to ranking positions in his administration.
Who is Rolando Bautista?
Bautista graduated from the Philippine Military Academy in 1985.
He served as a commander of different infantry battalions of the army during the previous administrations.
In 2016, Duterte chose him to lead the Presidential Security Group. Barely a few months on the post, Bautista was suddenly sent to fight alongside other troops during the five-month long Marawi Battle.
In October, he was promoted to lead the Philippine Army. He is set to retire from it this month.
Bautista was supposed to be assigned to replace Jason Aquino, former administrator of the National Food Authority who resigned amid criticisms over rising rice prices.