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Año to DILG, Duque back to DOH

Francisco Duque III and retired Gen. Eduardo Año(Joan Bondoc)

President Duterte formally announced on Thursday the appointment of retired Gen. Eduardo Año as head of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Año, who stepped down on Thursday as Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff, was replaced by Lt. Gen. Rey Leonardo Borja Guerrero.

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At the AFP change of command ceremony in Camp Aguinaldo, Mr. Duterte said he was appointing Año special assistant to the President or undersecretary for the time being because the DILG Act of 1990 prohibited Año from assuming the post of interior secretary immediately.

“From the military service to the civilian sector, you have to wait for one year,” the President said. “General Año, you’re always welcome to report. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll wait for you.”

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Mr. Duterte earlier said Año could have a rank of undersecretary in Malacañang but he “performs as officer in charge” of the DILG.

Other appointments

The President also appointed Francisco Duque III as secretary of health, a post he left seven years ago.

Duque would replace Paulyn Ubial, whose nomination was rejected by the Commission on Appointments (CA).

Others offered new positions by Malacañang were Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque and Deputy Commissioner Jesus Clint Aranas of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

Roque has been offered to be the presidential spokesperson and Aranas, president and general manager of state-run pension fund Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

The President said Año  “will now supervise the PNP (Philippine National Police) together with the acting interior secretary, retired PNP Director Catalino Cuy.”

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“General Año goes from a general to a secretary of the Cabinet. He would head the Department of the Interior and Local Government,” Mr. Duterte told him.

The DILG law states that no retired or resigned military officer or police official may be appointed secretary within one year from the date of his retirement or resignation.

Announcement in May

The President first announced Año’s designation as the next DILG secretary on May 10 after then Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno was fired in April over alleged corruption involving the purchase of fire trucks from Austria.

Undersecretary  Cuy is running the DILG as acting secretary.

On May 19, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the President had wanted  Año to take over the DILG by June 2.

But four days later, terrorists overran Marawi City and the President declared martial law in Mindanao. Año was  designated chief martial law implementor.

Año retired from the military on Thursday when he turned 56. The former Army commander became AFP chief of staff last December. He received his fourth star in January.

Duque served as health secretary from 2005 to 2010 during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a close ally of Mr. Duterte.

He also served as PhilHealth president from 2001 to 2005.

After leaving the Department of Health (DOH) in 2010, he headed the Civil Service Commission. In February this year, he was named chair of the GSIS.

Duque obtained his medical degree from University of Santo Tomas. He also has a master of science degree, majoring in pathology, from Georgetown University.

Health Undersecretary Herminigildo Valle welcomed the return of Duque to the DOH, saying the department “is ready to move forward under his able leadership.”

Valle served as officer in charge of the DOH after Ubial was rejected by the CA.

Presidential spokesperson

Roque said he and Mr. Duterte were set to meet on Friday to discuss the President’s offer for him to become presidential spokesperson.

“Will meet [the] President tomorrow [Friday],” Roque told the Inquirer in a text message when sought for his reaction to rumors that he would soon join Mr. Duterte’s communications team.

Word spread earlier this week that Mr. Duterte wanted Roque to replace Abella.

The President was said to have been disappointed with Abella’s explanation to the media that he was “fed with the wrong information” about a human rights body, and not the European Union parliamentarians, criticizing his administration’s human rights record.

Aranas to GSIS

Aranas, who helped in Mr. Duterte’s election campaign, was offered to be president and general manager of GSIS amid a power struggle in the BIR.

Sources told the Inquirer that during a private dinner with Aranas on Sunday, the President told the BIR official that he would be appointed to the top GSIS post.

Aranas is said to be in conflict with BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay.

While Aranas’ name had been mentioned as a major contender for the top BIR post before Mr. Duterte assumed office, it was Dulay, the President’s roommate at the Young Men’s Christian Association dormitory in the 1960s, who was eventually appointed.

Aranas, who was the national treasurer of Mr. Duterte’s PDP-Laban, was later appointed deputy commissioner in charge of the tax agency’s legal group.

Del Monte tax case

In July, Dulay accused Aranas of initiating an inquiry into the alleged “anomalous reduction” of Del Monte Philippines Inc.’s tax liabilities.

According to reports, Del Monte’s tax liabilities from 2011 to 2013 were slashed by the BIR to just P65.4 million from P30 billion.

A case against Dulay and 16 other BIR officials was filed in June by a supposed whistle-blower and tax informant in the Office of the Ombudsman. —WITH A REPORT FROM TINA G. SANTOS

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TAGS: Department of the Interior and Local Government, Eduardo Año, Lt. Gen. Rey Leonardo Borja Guerrero, Philippine news updates
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