By Catherine S. Valente | The Manila Times
(UPDATE) PRESIDENT-ELECT Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. or BBM has named three more appointees to his Cabinet, including former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile as his chief legal counsel, his incoming Press secretary Rose Beatrix "Trixie" Cruz-Angeles announced on Friday.
In a statement, Cruz-Angeles said Marcos has chosen two legal luminaries and a former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff to fill critical posts in his Cabinet.
"Among the new nominees is former Philippine Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile, who will reenter public service as presidential legal counsel-designate six years after announcing his retirement from politics in 2016," she added.
Enrile, a staunch supporter of Marcos and Vice President-elect Sara Duterte-Carpio during the 2022 elections, reaffirmed his commitment to serve the country and ensure the success of the incoming Marcos administration.
"I will devote my time and knowledge for the republic and for BBM because I want him to succeed," he said as quoted by Cruz-Angeles.
The Press chief said the 98-year-old Enrile has served the people in various roles for the past 50 years, including interim secretary of finance from 1966 to 1968, secretary of justice from 1968 to 1970 and minister of national defense from 1972 to 1986.
"Enrile's impeccable legal acumen enabled him to serve four terms in the Senate, where he also became the 21st Senate president during the 15th Congress from 2008 to 2013," she added.
Marcos picked outgoing Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra as his solicitor general and former AFP chief of staff and now retired general Jose Faustino Jr. as senior undersecretary and officer in charge of the Department of National Defense (DND)
Cruz-Angeles said Guevarra has accepted the nomination as solicitor general-designate during his meeting with Marcos on Thursday.
Guevarra has been a lawyer for over 30 years, graduating magna cum laude, major in political science, from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1974.
He obtained his master's degree in economics from the University of the Philippines and worked at the National Economic and Development Authority from 1977 to 1983.
Guevarra placed second in the 1985 Bar exams.
He began private law practice in 1986 and started teaching at his alma mater in 1990 as part of the law school faculty, specializing in civil law, criminal law and administrative litigation.
Before being appointed as ad interim Justice secretary in 2018, Guevarra was the deputy executive secretary of President Rodrigo Duterte.
He said the past administration had offered him both the Justice department and the Office of the Solicitor General, but none of them materialized.
Guevarra was appointed Justice chief in 2018, replacing Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd, a fraternity brother of Duterte, who was forced to resign because of alleged involvement in the controversial dismissal of a complaint against alleged drug lords Peter Lim and Kerwin Espinosa, among others.
When asked if his new role would not be in conflict with the appointing authority, he explained that all cases related to the alleged ill-gotten wealth cases and unpaid estate-taxes cases of the Marcoses were already in the courts.
"I intend to stick to the role of the OSG as the defender of the republic and tribune of the people," Guevarra said.
Cruz-Angeles said Faustino has accepted Marcos' offer to be the DND's OIC during their meeting with incoming national security adviser Clarita Carlos also on Thursday.
This post "would later assume as secretary on Nov. 13, 2022, in compliance with the one-year ban on the appointment of retired military officers under Republic Act 6975," she added.
"Faustino's situation was similar to that of current Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, whom President Duterte designated as officer in charge but later assumed the secretary position once the appointment ban lapsed," Cruz-Angeles said.
Faustino, a member of the Philippine Military Academy's "Maringal" Class of 1988, is a Mindanao veteran who has served under the special forces, infantry and intelligence posts.
He was also the commander of the Joint Task Force Mindanao and the commanding general of the Philippine Army before being appointed AFP chief of staff.
The recent nominations made by Marcos were seen highlighting his commitment to encouraging economic development and inclusive growth, as he has vowed to prioritize agriculture, health care, education, infrastructure development, digital infrastructure, job creation and utilization of renewable energy, Cruz-Angeles said.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorezana also on Friday said in a statement he expects Faustino to "hit the ground running" when he formally assumes his post as officer-in-charge of the agency.
Faustino served as the 56th chief of staff of the AFP until his mandatory retirement on Nov. 12, 2021.
FRANCIS EARL CUETO AND WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL