Critics and netizens questioned the plum positions appointed to the likes of musicians Ramon “RJ” Jacinto, Jimmy Bondoc and Freddie Aguilar, and comedian Arnelli Ignacio.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar urged the public to respect President Rodrigo Duterte’s exercise of his “presidential prerogative” to choose the people he wants to join his team in governing the Philippines.
“If the President wishes to appoint anyone that he deems credible, then we leave the wisdom to the President. I am sure many of us Filipinos understand what we call presidential prerogative,” said Andanar.
Jacinto was named presidential adviser on economic affairs and information technology communications with the rank of undersecretary.
Jacinto is a guitarist and rock and roll musician who, during the May elections, composed Duterte’s campaign jingle, extolling him as a “man of action without corruption.”
Jacinto is best known for founding a rock-and-roll radio station, DZRJ, and other businesses in the music industry, including guitar-making company RJ Guitars and the music lounge and restaurant, Bistro RJ in Makati. He also owns a radio and TV station, as well as a company with interests in real estate development, retail and manufacturing.
He also helps run his family’s steel business. His family established Jacinto Steel, considered the pioneer manufacturer of galvanized iron sheets in the country.
It will not be the first time for Jacinto, who graduated with honors from the Ateneo de Manila University with a degree in economics, to serve government. He was vice-chairperson of the presidential committee on flagship programs and projects during the Ramos administration.
Bondoc and Ignacio were designated assistant vice-presidents of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. Bondoc is in charge of entertainment while Ignacio handles community relations.
Bondoc was one the celebrities who supported Duterte. In fact, he composed the song, “Takbo,” which he dedicated to Duterte. The song was sung by other singers who also backed Duterte such as Luke Mejares and Paolo Santos.
Defending his appointment, Bondoc said he got his education from the Ateneo de Manila University “from prep to college.” He graduated with an AB Communication degree in 1997.
Bondoc also said he was fortunate to be part of the honors’ class the whole time.
Ignacio said they are currently studying realigning the PAGCOR’s budget to be able to focus mainly on health services. He said the agency is looking at options to increase government subsidies such as free vaccinations and the procurement of medical equipment. He said they will procure many medical equipment like blood testing analyzers.
Folk singer Freddie Aguilar (who composed and sang the hit song Ana)’ performed the song “Duterte Para Sa Pagbabago” which was used as the official campaign song of Duterte. He was also a frequent performer at Duterte’s campaign rallies/
Aguilar is also reported to be up for the leadership of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
Aguilar said he agreed to head the NCCA but also asked the President to create a department for culture and the arts, as he wanted to have a “cultural revolution” in the country. Until the department is formed, Aguilar said he was willing to try heading the NCAA.
But NCCA chair Felipe de Leon clarified that the head of the cultural agency cannot be appointed, as per Republic Act 7356. He noted that the chairman is elected by the Board of Commissioners. There are four levels of elections — general assembly, committee membership, committee chairmanship, and head of a sub-commission — before you can be a member of the Board, who will then elect its Chair,” he explained
De Leon described the committee members as “fiercely independent artists and cultural workers who will always like to choose their own leaders.”
Netizens also slammed Duterte’s appointment of lawyer Lanee David, a counsel of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, as deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
Napoles was allegedly a key player in the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam, in which three senators have been charged and arrested.
David is also a San Beda College graduate like the President. She was quoted in earlier reports as saying that her law firm had already withdrawn from the tax cases of the Napoleses. (MCA)