DSWD should be led by career officials

A military man at the helm of the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD)?

            President Rodrigo Duterte recently announced that he plans to appoint the current Army chief, Lt. Gen. Rolando Bautista, as the next social welfare secretary once the latter retires from the service.

          Not unexpectedly, Duterte's plan has drawn flak from an opposition lawmaker and personnel of the DSWD itself.

          Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon cautioned about the risks of a militarized administration. He cited the need for civilian supremacy and asked Duterte to “take a second look” at his plan.

          “We admit that it is within the President’s power to appoint his Cabinet but there is a principle or guideline that you must not militarize the bureaucracy,” Drilon said. He suggested that the DSWD might be better off in the hands of career officials.

          Meanwhile, officials and employees of the DSWD aired concerns over the President’s plan, saying his choice of Bautista would be an “insult” to social workers.

          The Social Welfare Employees Association of the Philippines has said it is also opposed to the President’s plan.

          “This is the first time that, out of nowhere, a war veteran without any familiarity in the terrain [of social work] is being appointed,” the group said.

          To show that they are against the President's plan to appojnt Bautista, union members from the DSWD central office and regional offices in Southern and Central Luzon staged a rally last Wednesday (Oct. 10) at the Department of Budget and Management and on Mendiola Bridge in Manila. 
          We   gree that the DSWD should be retained in civilian hands. While the Palace would probably claim that Bautista would already be a civilian once he leaves the military, his training and experience as a soldier does not exactly lend itself quite well to the consensus building and democratic decision making in the civilian bureaucracy. 

          Besides, last we looked, the Duterte administration is already  packed with some 60 retired military officers now occupying various leading positions.