Almendras’ tasks may be known Tuesday
MANILA, Philippines – What exactly will Jose Rene Almendras do as the President’s newly minted Cabinet Secretary?
His job description will be known soon, with the Palace expected to issue an executive order on the Office of the Cabinet Secretary on Tuesday, November 6.
“Very soon, very, very soon,” said Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte. “Not within the day but very soon, we’re looking perhaps tomorrow for the release.”
Before the release of the order, Almendras already took his oath before President Benigno Aquino III at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Sunday, November 4. Almendras’ replacement in the energy department, Secretary Jericho Petilla was also sworn in.
Aquino and Almendras are now in Laos for the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 9).
Palace spokespersons have earlier said they do not know the details of Almendras’ job description pending the release of the order.
Asked if the new Cabinet Secretary will handle the performance evaluation of Cabinet officials, Valte said this task has already been assigned to an interagency task force under Administrative Order 25.
‘No overlapping functions’
After his oath-taking, Almendras said in an interview that his work will not overlap with that of the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) and the Office of the Executive Secretary.
“Mine is a staff position. Cabinet secretary is a staff position so it doesn’t conflict with any of the line positions. The line positions are very clear. PMS is very clear, the Office of the Executive Secretary – those are line functions. Cabinet secretary is a staff function. It’s in a staff box,” Almendras told reporters.
The Cabinet Secretary said that his role is to coordinate with the departments and agencies under the executive branch, and to follow through on the President’s initiatives.
“You will not even see me. We are a staff function. We completely disappear into the bureaucracy,” Almendras said.
Based in Malacañang, the position of Cabinet Secretary has been in the organizational chart of the Office of the President. The Secretary heads a group that organizes Cabinet meetings and ensures that directives in these meetings are implemented.
Rappler earlier reported that the job envisioned for Almendras is more powerful than what has been designed, with the Secretary likely tasked to ensure the delivery of the strategic action plans of the administration.
When he announced Almendras’ appointment, Aquino told reporters while on a trip to Australia that some of PMS chief Julia Abad’s functions might be “transferred to Secretary Almendras.”
A former classmate of the President, Almendras is said to be part of Aquino’s inner circle.
He was energy chief for the first two years of the Aquino administration. – Rappler.com