National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has retained several appointees of his predecessor, Voltaire Gazmin, but he said their appointments would only be temporary while he is looking for their replacements.
“Their stay is only temporary, from two to six months. It depends,” Lorenzana said.
Lorenzana denied allegation that Gazmin had requested the retention of his men at the DND.
“No, it’s my decision to retain them,” Lorenzana said.
On June 30, Malacañang issued Memorandum Circular No. 1 directing all government officials to continue serving in a hold-over capacity until the end of July, unless their appointments are sooner revoked, resignations accepted, replacements appointed or reappointments issued.
“Pursuant to relevant laws and regulations, all coterminus positions in excess of or not covered by an agency’s plantilla are hereby considered functus officio by 12:00 noon of 30 June 2016, unless their occupants are otherwise directed by the head of agency/entity concerned to continue serving in hold-over capacity until 31 July 2016,” it stated.
One of the so-called “Gazmin boys” is Ernesto Boac, former Assistant Secretary for Financial Management, who has a new post as Asec for Acquisition, Installation and Logistics, formerly held by former Asec Efren Fernandez.
Roy Devaraturda, Assistant Secretary for Plans and Program, could be assigned chairman of the DND Bids and Awards Committee, formerly concurrently held by Boac.
Lorenzana has retained Raymund Jose Quilop, Assistant Secretary for Assessment and International Affairs.
Ernesto Carolina, Acting Administrator of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office also retained his post.
Lorenzana retained Fermin de Leon Jr., president of the National Defense College of the Philippines.
Jonathan Martir, director of the Government Arsenal, kept his old post, while Peter Paul Reuben Galvez, fprmer spokesman of Gazmin, was named acting Chief of Staff to SND.
Galvez has come under fire from the media for his selective and inimical treatment of reporters covering the Defense beat.
All these positions, Lorenzana reiterated, were “not dictated” to him by Gazmin who was his senior officer at the Presidential Security Group during the time of the late President Corazon Aquino, mother of former President Benigno Aquino III.
He thanked Gazmin for extending his term as head of the Office of Veteran Affairs in Washington D.C., USA.
“In effect I’m Gazmin’s appointee back then when President Pnoy Aquino won in 2010. But I want to clarify that the situation is different now and I thank Pres. Duterte for giving me his trust and confidence to lead DND. I really appreciate that,” Lorenzana said.
Lorenzana also belied allegations that his retaining the “Gazmin boys” is somehow a means to cover up corruption issues plaguing the DND.
Gazmin, Boac and several other defense officials were facing plunder charges filed by whistleblower Rhodora Alvarez, an employee of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), before the Office of the Ombudsman over the botched P1.2 billion chopper deal.
“Such allegation, I think, is misplaced. There will be no cover up on all these issues We will look into this and all other issues,” Lorenzana said.
Lorenzana denied that Gazmin allegedly asked him to retain the manager of the General Headquarters Golf Club who has been in the position for more than 1o years.
“That’s not true. But I know the manager and he is a good manager,” he said.
Asked about the alleged meddling of Gazmin into the affairs of the Board of Generals of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Lorenzana said he will not dip a finger into the affairs of the BOG.
“My job is to submit to the President the short list of senior officers recommended for promotion and designation. If the President would ask me later to comment on the short list that’s the only time I will give my opinion. I have no business in the BOG affairs,” Lorenzana said. The GHQ Golf Club is under the jurisdiction of AFP Chief of Staff, now being held by Lieutenant General Ricardo Visaya, not under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of National Defense.
Meanwhile, Lorenzana disclosed the composition of his new team who are also former military officers.
He tapped Cardozo Luna as his Undersecretary of National Defense (USND).
He also enslisted the services of Cesar Yano as Undersecretary for Defense Operations. Yano is the brother of former AFP chief Gen. Alexander Yano.
Eduardo del Rosario has also been tapped as Undersecretary for Civil, Veterans and Retiree Affairs. Del Rosario was former head of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and concurrent executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) led by the SND.
The OCD/NDRRMC is now headed by Ricardo Jalad.
Lorenzana said former AFP chief Gen. Ricardo David will be Assistant Secretary for Plans and Programs. Aquino had appointed David commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration but only to be sacked for alleged corruption issues.
Lorenzana appointed Col. Arnel Duco as his Senior Military Adviser and Col. Estrelieto Romero as commander of the Department Intelligence Service Group.
“My manta to my defense team is just do your job properly and be transparent,” he said.