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Next DILG chief still a guessing game

OZAMIZ CITY—The wait for whom President Duterte would appoint as next head of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is turning into a game of roulette with at least six faces—no one is sure on whose face the needle would point.

The post had been vacant since April 4 when Mr. Duterte sacked Ismael Sueno over a fire truck deal that the President described as “graft-ridden,” but which is being pursued by Sueno’s temporary replacement, Catalino Cuy.

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Cuy, former Davao City police chief, has been acting secretary since April 5.

At least six are publicly known as contenders for the post—Cuy, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Gerry Salapuddin, Guiling Mamondiong, Rafael Alunan and Franklin Quijano.

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Marcos, former senator and defeated vice presidential candidate, had publicly expressed disinterest in the position though.

Quijano was former Iligan City mayor while Salapuddin was former Basilan congressman. Alunan had held the position under the administration of Fidel Ramos. Mamondiong was transportation undersecretary under former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Plucked from retirement, Cuy was among several police officers fined an equivalent of a month’s salary in 2012 by the Office of the Ombudsman for failing to control summary killings by the so-called Davao Death Squad from 2005 to 2008 when he headed the Davao City police.

Mamondiong’s name was floated as Sueno’s replacement at the height of moves to oust Sueno.

Buying time

The President’s designation of an officer in charge at DILG raised speculations that he was buying time until the ban on appointing candidates in the last elections lapsed, which is coming next week.

If the six, indeed, are on Mr. Duterte’s list, the more pronounced names would be Marcos and Quijano, if the President’s statements and posturing are to be judged.

Mr. Duterte has had no qualms introducing Marcos as his preferred vice president. Quijano had been endorsed by key leaders of the Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte Movement, one of the biggest grassroots networks that supported Mr. Duterte’s campaign.

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Sources said sections within what used to be Mr. Duterte’s campaign circle were pushing for an appointee who could do two roles—run the DILG and expand Mr. Duterte’s support base.

During the campaign and while already in office, Mr. Duterte styled himself as the country’s only savior from “perdition,” which he blamed on corruption and drugs.

While Sueno’s programs hewed closely to what Mr. Duterte wanted, jockeying for the position of DILG chief eventually pulled the rug off his feet.

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TAGS: Department of the Interior and Local Government, Ismael Sueno, Philippine news updates
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