Militarization of government? Correct, says Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte has defended the appointment of former military officials to his Cabinet amid criticisms that he is "militarizing" the government.
In his speech during the distribution of certificates of land ownership award to farmers in Cagayan De Oro on Wednesday, Duterte mentioned the corruption controversy hounding the Bureau of Customs (BOC) as well as the issue on the shabu smuggled into the country.
"I will not allow that. I will not sit as President and let you render me inutile as you continue with your corruption there in Customs right in front of me. Put**ng i** niyo. Now you have a problem. They say it’s militarization of the government, correct. They say, 'Please tell mayor that not all of us are corrupt.' That’s true," Duterte said.
"But why is it that many entered into shabu? Don’t tell me that they’re… They managed to get past… [ex-Customs chief Nicanor] Faeldon is a Marine, Sid is a police... They do not know the... so I said men from the Army might be better. And then I had them trained to read, operate the X-Ray machine," Duterte added.
Critics have slammed Duterte's earlier pronouncement that he would let the military take over the BOC following the billions of pesos worth of shabu that was smuggled into the country using magnetic lifters.
The critics said Duterte's plan is unconstitutional.
Newly-installed BOC chief Rey Leonardo Guerrero, however, clarified that there will be no militarization in the agency, noting that soldiers will only be deployed to assist the Customs personnel. Guerrero is a former Armed Forces chief.
In his speech, Duterte also defended anew former BOC chiefs Nicanor Faeldon and Isidro Lapeña as huge shabu shipments were able to enter the country under their respective leaderships.
The President, meanwhile, pointed out that he is not against bureaucracy, but noted that military officials will not "debate" with him whenever he has orders.
"I said do it randomly or forcibly open everything. They will really do it. You know, that’s why I like military men. There are very few of us remaining who are… Almost everyone are from the military except for me, Dabs and Medialdea," Duterte said.
"I don’t have anything against the bureaucracy, but the bureaucracy will take you forever. They will even debate with you. You have a disaster, a fire, a flood, but the fools there would reportedly be still drinking," he added.
Duterte also said if not for military men, tourist destination Boracay Island, which he previously called as a "cesspool," will not be rehabilitated.
"Do you think Boracay would have been cleaned up if it weren’t for Año and Cimatu? Año is from the DILG and Cimatu was once assigned in Davao," Duterte said.
Like Guerrero, Interior and Local Government officer-in-charge Eduardo Año and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu are former Armed Forces chiefs of staff. —KBK, GMA News