Carandang resigns; Customs chief named
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang resigned from his post, the Palace announced on Thursday, December 12.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said President Benigno Aquino III accepted Carandang's resignation on Tuesday. It takes effect December 31.
Lacierda also announced another change in Aquino's Cabinet, specifically the appointment of former Finance Undersecretary John "Sunny" Sevilla as commissioner of the Bureau of Customs. Sevilla was appointed Customs officer in charge earlier, following the resignation of Rozzano Rufino "Ruffy" Biazon.
Sevilla had been Finance undersecretary for Corporate Affairs Group and Privatization since 2010. He held the same post from 2006-2007. Prior to joining the finance department, Sevilla was an investment banker. He worked as executive director at investment bank Goldman Sachs, and was associate director and sovereign rater for credit rating agency Standard and Poor's.
Carandang was a stock broker who spent a decade in the business sector, before becoming a journalist. He left his media job in 2010 to join Aquino's administration.
"Secretary Carandang thanked the President for the chance to serve the administration and the country. The President also thanked him for his service to the country," Lacierda said. He did not provide a reason for his resignation, but only said Carandang "wants to return to the private sector."
Lacierda said the discussions between Aquino and Carandang were only between themselves. Having worked with Carandang, Lacierda said he was "saddened" by his decision to leave.
Carandang's resignation comes after evident changes within the communications group, with Presidential Communications and Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio "Sonny" Coloma Jr starting to host the daily Palace briefings – something Lacierda and his deputy Abigail Valte were previously responsible for.
In the past few weeks, less and less briefings were hosted by Lacierda and Valte.
On the same day Carandang's resignation was announced, an unrelated press statement from the Office of the Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa referred to Coloma as "Press Secretary," something which Lacierda said he was unaware of. He maintained Coloma continues to head the PCOO, and that Carandang will keep his position until the end of the year.
Coloma has been identified with the Ochoa group, one faction in the Aquino presidential campaign which is believed to have carried over to the Palace when Aquino won as president in 2010.
Carandang and Lacierda were with the "Balay" faction identified with Mar Roxas who first ran as president, but who slid to vice president to make way for Aquino. He lost but was eventually appointed Interior and Local Government Secretary.
All up to the President
What happens to the communications group will all depend on further discussions with the President, Lacierda said, adding that he is still unsure about other changes the communications group would undergo.
Once Carandang's resignation takes effect, Undersecretary Manuel L. Quezon III is expected to oversee the operations of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO).
"We don't yet know about changes in the structure, that's something for us to discuss eventually, if ever there will be [changes]," Lacierda said.
He also gave assurances "all communication units are working together." – Natashya Gutierrez/Rappler.com