Only Avanzas for Duterte Cabinet
WHEN he announced his administration would practice austerity, President-elect Rodrigo Duterte told his official family not only to get rid of their luxury cars but also specified the vehicle they should use: Toyota Avanza, a mini multipurpose vehicle.
“Duterte wants an Avanza because that’s the cheapest,” said Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, who was guest at the Meet Inquirer Multimedia forum on Tuesday.
“When someone asked me what I will do, I said I will invoke separation of powers,” the designated House Speaker from Davao del Norte and longtime friend of Duterte said, drawing laughter from editors and reporters.
“I said I will use a pickup,” Alvarez said, adding he is used to cruising around in a light truck, driving it himself sometimes.
In meeting his chosen Cabinet members a day after his proclamation as winner of the May 9 elections and the country’s 16th President, Duterte laid down his rules for a frugal administration, directing his appointees to forego business class plane tickets, forget about using public funds for junkets, or abstain from using expensive cars.
Alvarez said Duterte meant to show it on the very day he assumes the presidency on June 30.
The 71-year-old mayor of Davao City for two decades will be sworn in as President in Malacañang, deviating from the tradition for Presidents to be inaugurated at Quirino Grandstand in Manila’s Rizal Park.
“I suggested that it be held at the Palace grounds,” Alvarez said.
Save for the late President Corazon Aquino who took her oath of office at Club Filipino following the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution, Presidents Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno Aquino III took their oaths at Quirino Grandstand in ceremonies gathering thousands of spectators.
Duterte had earlier said he would attend his inauguration and exchange his usual casual attire for a more formal barong.
He said he would “just follow protocol” in crafting a “well-prepared speech,” acknowledging that it would be the “policy of this nation.”
Duterte snubbed Congress, which convened as a national board of canvassers on May 30 to declare him winner of the May 9 balloting. He said he had missed such formalities since becoming a politician.
When he became the House Speaker, Alvarez is keen to toe a similar line of conscientious governance, vowing to practice a leadership style that would reflect simplicity and diligence as Duterte had outlined.
It goes hand in hand with Alvarez’s agenda to give antipoverty efforts top priority.
“Whatever is necessary in addressing poverty,” Alvarez replied, when asked during the forum what people should expect from him.
“I want to be an instrument to uplift the condition of our fellowmen,” said the returning lawmaker, who first served in Congress from 1998 to 2001.
One of the traditions that must go is the annual “fashion show” when members of Congress, their spouses and other guests turn up at the red carpet in glamorous garb for the State of the Nation Address (Sona), as if attending a Hollywood awards night.
“Even the civil code frowns upon the display of wealth amid poverty. So we don’t need to be as extravagant. Business attire would be enough, like what you wear when going to the office,” Alvarez said. “You don’t have to come as if you’re going to a party.”
Wearing formal attire is always a challenge for him, said Alvarez, who wore a collared shirt, black pants and suede boots.
“You know, my greatest problem is wearing barong and Americana. When I was in Congress before, I wore jeans and then a barong,” he said.
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