Duterte names AFP Chief Año as next DILG Secretary

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 10) — Armed Forces Chief General Eduardo Año is the new head of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), President Rodrigo Duterte announced Wednesday.

However, Año, who retires on October 26 this year, must first complete his term in the armed forces before assuming his Cabinet post.

Año was named Commanding General of the Philippine Army in July 2015.  He served in the Davao region as commanding general of the 10th Infantry Division. He scored some of the biggest arrests of communist leaders in his career as a veteran intelligence officer.

Año will be taking over the DILG from officer-in-charge Catalino Cuy, who assumed the post after Secretary Mike Sueno was sacked in March for alleged corruption.

In a text message, Cuy welcomed the announcement. 

"Does not bode well"

Critics, however, frowned at the new development.

Youth group Anakbayan expressed concern over the "creeping militarization" of the supposedly "civilian" Duterte cabinet with the appointments of Año and ex-AFP chief, now Environment secretary, Roy Cimatu.

"We urge Duterte to rethink the appointment of officials from the military establishment, which it condemned as one of the most corrupt and human rights violating institution in the country," it said in a statement. 

Related: Ex-AFP chief Cimatu appointed as acting Environment Secretary

Apart from Año and Cimatu, the group cited other ex-generals now included in the Cabinet like Hermogenes Esperon as National Security Adviser, Delfin Lorenzana as Defense secretary and Ricardo Visaya as Defense undersecretary.

Yesterday, environmental group Kalikasan also scored Cimatu's DENR appointment in a strongly-worded statement. Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, along with Anakbayan, said the appointment was an attempt to "militarize" parts of government.

Related: Palace defends Cimatu's appointment from critics

For his part, Bayan Muna Rep.Carlos Zarate said Año's appointment did not bode well for human rights.

"The growing influence in the administration of military generals, especially those linked to human rights violations, is gravely alarming, because these are the same people whose allegiance to the interventionist US policy is unquestionable and who are also brazenly averse to the ongoing peace process," Zarate said.

Instead of an ex-military man, Zarate said "it would be to the best interest of the country if the one to be placed as the new interior  secretary would be an honest and competent civilian that is knowledgeable of the workings of local governments and public safety."