Manila Standard : BBM spokes named Executive Secretary, more nominees up

By Rey E. Requejo | Manila Standard

Lawyer Vic Rodriguez, the spokesman and chief-of-staff of presumptive president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., said Sunday he has been nominated for the position of executive secretary for the incoming administration.

This as Marcos said the vetting processs should not be rushed.

“Even as there are no talks yet on the proclamation, we have already started the vetting process of those who we feel are capable of heading our departments. This is not an easy process, nor should it be rushed,” Marcos said in a video blog posted on YouTube.

“There are names that have been floated—some have yet to be confirmed, some have already been confirmed, and several are just pure speculation. We will reach the right time when I will introduce each of them to you,” he added.

“Who can say no to President-elect Bongbong Marcos? It is an honor working with him, whom I have known for a very long time and I believe will serve the country efficiently and with unquestioned devotion. It is very flattering to work alongside the best person I’ve known,” Rodriguez said in a statement.

“Rest assured that our team will work doubly hard for the success of his six-year presidency,” he added.

Rodriguez has left his post as Marcos’s spokesperson in preparation for his transfer to the Office of the Executive Secretary.

The executive secretary is the highest-ranking official within the Office of the President of the Philippines. The executive secretary is also a part of the Cabinet.

The executive secretary directly assists the president in managing government affairs and directs the operations of the executive office.

Lawyer Salvador Medialdea serves as President Rodrigo Duterte’s executive secretary.

Earlier, Marcos asked former Labor Secretary Bienvenido “Benny” Laguesma and migrant workers’ advocate Susan “Toots” Ople to be part of his administration.

Rodriguez, said Tuesday Marcos had talked to the two before leaving the country for Australia for a “much needed rest and vacation” after a grueling campaign.

Laguesma was asked to lead the Department of Labor and Employment, while Ople was asked to take the helm of the newly-created Department of Migrant Workers.

“Both are respected in the field of labor and employment,” Rodriguez said.

He said both Laguesma and Ople “accepted the invitation warmly” even as they asked for some time to consult first with their families, friends, and other people they trust.

Laguesma was DOLE Secretary from 1998 to 2001 under President Joseph Estrada – a position also held by Ople’s father, Blas Ople, under President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. from 1978 to 1986.

Toots Ople, who heads the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute, was an undersecretary of DOLE under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from 2004 to 2009. She was her father’s chief of staff in both the Senate (from 1992 until 2002) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (in 2003).

Earlier, the Marcos camp announced the first two Cabinet members of the incoming administration: presumptive vice president Sara Duterte-Carpio for the Education post and former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Benhur Abalos to lead the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

Rodriguez earlier said their camp is moving “in the right direction, with the appropriate speed” in forming a “responsive” team amid the challenges besetting the country.

“I know people are excited about who else’s names will be released, but the interview process and vetting will continue” Rodriguez said.

Dindo Manhit, president of research firm Stratbase ADR Institute, said Marcos must transform his popular support into a Cabinet reflective of his message of unity.

“He had a strong message of unity, it worked and brought about that strong support from the public. Now transform that legitimate support into a government that’s formed with technocrats,” he said in an interview on ANC.

“He will be inheriting a government that is challenged with debt, demand of the Filipino people to address what I consider economic consequences of this pandemic so we need really technocrats, we need people who are qualified on one hand, not political in nature because you will need to make decisions that’s not political,” Manhit added.

Rodriguez, who heads Marcos’ transition team, said they are also looking at the possibility of tapping candidates who lost in the May 9 polls after the one-year ban.

Party color is not a consideration in choosing Cabinet appointees, Rodriguez said.

“After May 9, we are no longer talking about political color. Our call for unity is not just a campaign messaging,” he said.