PH already under military rule as Duterte doles out key gov’t positions to military, police

“Retiring or retired uniformed officers have a guaranteed career ahead of them under the Duterte regime. As a reward for the incessant human rights violations directed and funded by the government, these butchers are appointed to key civilian positions. Duterte not only coddles the masterminds of the most atrocious crimes, but ensures they are positioned in strategic roles to perpetrate more abuses. Along with our expression of outrage on the 3rd martial law extension in Mindanao, we likewise condemn the blatant positioning of militarists who usurp and cripple civilian functions to give way to nationwide military rule,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay in light of the appointment of another ex-military as undersecretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

On February 15, 2019, Duterte named retired major general Rene Glen Paje as undersecretary of DSWD. Paje was the commander of the First Scout Ranger during the Marawi siege. Less than a month prior to Paje’s appointment, Duterte also awarded another undersecretary position to retired Brigadier General Felicisimo Budiongan. Budiongan was assistant deputy commander of the Mechanized Infantry Division before his retirement. Paje and Budiongan will both be working under former AFP Chief of Staff Rolando Bautista, who is now DSWD secretary.

Apart from Bautista, every AFP chief of staff under Duterte was awarded a key government position after retirement. There are now at least 40 ex-military and police officers in Duterte’s Cabinet. Even favored generals of former president Gloria Arroyo were also showered with positions. Here are a few of the positions given to former uniformed officers in Duterte’s Cabinet: Ex-AFP Chief Eduardo Año as DILG Secretary, Ex-AFP Chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr as National Security Adviser, retired general Delfin Lorenzana as Defense Secretary, ex-AFP Chief Carlito Galvez as Secretary of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, ex-AFP Chief Rolando Bautista as DSWD Secretary, retired army general Eduardo del Rosario as HUDCC chairman, ex-AFP chief Roy Cimatu as DENR Secretary, and retired police general Isidro Lapeña as TESDA Director General.

“The Duterte regime is doling out these positions under the guise that these butchers are competent, when scrutiny of their credentials leads us to a big question mark. This gap can be bridged by the fact that they are compañeros of the President and loyal lapdogs who killed and violated people’s rights on command,” said Palabay. 

“Though in a different form, what we are seeing is the deliberate hand-over of civilian functions. Like the chaos that the military has perpetrated in Mindanao, we are noting spikes in military operations in communities across the country, resulting to harassment, displacement, and other violations. Martial law did nothing to resolve conflict, nor did it solve the socio-economic concerns of Mindanaoans. Two years of martial law has not led to the fast-tracking of Marawi rehabilitation that puts the residents at the center of planning and decision-making. It has, however, fast-tracked the repression of regional and community leaders, and the selling out of ancestral lands to corporations, at the expense of the Filipino people. Definitely, a military Cabinet will aggravate the situation and spread state terrorism all over the country,” Palabay explained.

“By littering butchers and militarists in his Cabinet, Duterte is putting the Filipino people at greater risk. This existing set-up will no doubt steer the country towards intensified repression, corruption and unaccountability, paving the way to a full-fledged dictatorship. This regime will not only exacerbate the already deteriorating human rights situation in the country but will also remove transparency and checks and balances within the government,” Palabay concluded. 

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, +639173162831 

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580