It’s just 100 days into his presidency but this early, President Rodrigo Duterte’s broad-based Cabinet is already showing some cracks reminiscent of the Balay-Samar divide which hounded Aquino administration.
But while the infighting in the Aquino Cabinet is between rival political supporters cut from the same cloth (traditional politikos Mar Roxas versus Jojo Binay), Duterte’s factionalism is about clashing ideologies of communist street protesters and the neo-liberal holdovers from the past administrations – Ramos to Estrada to Arroyo.
Makabayan bloc members, couldn’t help but air out their gripes against Cabinet members who contradict the President’s declarations on military ties with the United States, agrarian reform and labor contractualization.
“Kami sa Makabayan, alam namin ang katangian ng Duterte administration. Sa kabinete mismo ni pangulo, contradictory ang mga pwersa. Merong mga ilang mga cabinet members dyan na galling sa previous administration, di katataka-taka na kumbaga para sa kanila ipagpapatuloy nila lalo na yung mga economic policies ng nakaraang administrasyon. Tapos, as you know, may mga nasa kabinete na galing sa kaliwa,” said ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio referring to Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo and Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano.
“May mga ilang opisyal na ginagawang i-minimize, paliitin, or outright itanggi yung mga sinasabi. Meron din namang ibang politiko na hindi basta matanggap yung statements kaya siguro sinasabi na manahimik na lang si Pangulo,” added Tinio referring to Duterte allies Majority Leader Rudy Farinas and Senator Dick Gordon whoa dvised the president to tone down or shut down his rhetoric.
Gabriela Rep. Arelene Brosas cited as a glaring example of Cabinet insubordination Duterte’s explicit announcement that the recent “Balikatan” or war games between the US and Philippine troops would be the last in his term. But Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana were quick to deny this declaration and they even claimed that the President was mistaken. But the President himself reiterated a day later his desire to end the war games because it has only benefited American and not Filipino soldiers.
Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao said that Yasay, who was Securities and Exchange Commission Chair under Ramos, was notorious for contradciting the President’s policy announcements.
“There are a lot of progressive statements na binibitawan si President Duterte. However, some of his secretaries are contradicting his statements. One is Secretary Yasay for the foreign policy. President Duterte has been consistent in several occasions with regards to his decision for an independent foreign policy, his criticism on the EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement), unsigned by former President Aquino.
Casilao also chastised Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto who has actively lobbied to block the resolution of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Councildecalrae a a two-year moratorium on the conversion of farm lands . “Director Pernia is contradicting this statement and in fact (he is) doing an effort to petition the said moratorium. Itong mga taliwas na mga kilos at direksyon ng ibang secretary / cabinet members ng ating pangulo ay contradicting dun sa mga progresibong linya at tunguhin ng ating pangulo,” said Casilao.
Tinio blasted Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno for refusing to follow the President ’s order to increase free education and free health service as the Estrada-era official slashed the budget for state universities, and colleges and cut the subsidies for 68 of 70 public hospitals in the 2017 budget.
While Duterte has allowed his Cabinet Secretaries to act independently, Casilao said that they should at least align their move with the President’s public declarations.