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MANILA, Philippines – What ‘Presidential Chief of Staff’?
Newly-appointed Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin told reporters on Tuesday, October 4, that his predecessor, Vic Rodriguez, was no longer a part of the Marcos administration.
Asked if Rodriguez had a post in the current administration, Bersamin, a former chief justice, said: “He is no longer a member of the Cabinet. You must recall that he resigned for a specific reason.”
On the sidelines of a meeting with officers of the Malacañang Press Corps, Bersamin was asked about Administrative Order No. 1, which President Ferdinand Marcos Jr had supposedly signed the weekend before he flew to the US for a working visit.
‘AO Number 1’ would have created the post of presidential chief of staff, which Rodriguez was supposedly set to assume. It was former Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angles – who has since also resigned – that made the statement about a supposed ‘AO Number 1.’
“We don’t even talk about it – not about him, not about it…. You know we have to respect the privacy of the former executive secretary. He’s entitled to it,” said Bersamin, asked if Rodriguez would have a post in the new admin.
“To be fair to him and to the President, let us not belabor the issue. I was appointed [Executive Secretary], I was sworn into office, and I think that should put that matter into rest,” Bersamin added.
Rodriguez, the spokesperson and chief of staff of then candidate Marcos during the 2022 presidential campaign, stepped down from his Cabinet post in mid-September. His resignation was made public through a statement posted on September 17 on his own social media accounts and through Angeles, then the press chief.
Rodriguez cited wanting to be with his “young family” as the reason behind his resignation. He added in this statement then, however, that he would continue serving Marcos as “Presidential Chief of Staff.” It turns out that the position of presidential chief of staff did not exist then and remains non-existent in the Marcos administration.
A day after Bersamin’s interview with reporters, Rodriguez, in a Facebook post, “confirmed that [he has] completely exited the administration of President Bongbong Marcos.” He also bemoaned the “baseless and unfair commentaries” about him.
“But I take solace in the legal aphorism, ‘Men in public life may suffer under a hostile or unjust accusation; the wound can be assuaged with the balm of a clear conscience,'” said Rodriguez, one of the shortest-lived executive secretaries.
Top Palace sources had earlier told Rappler that Rodriguez not getting a new Cabinet post was among Bersamin’s conditions for accepting the role as executive secretary or “little president.”
The presidential chief of staff was supposed to be under the Office of the President and carried with it the same Cabinet rank, said Angeles then.
Prior to Rodriguez’s actual resignation, rumors swirled that he was indeed quitting. A draft order that would have granted more powers to the purported presidential chief of staff also made the rounds online, but this was thumbed down by Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile. – Rappler.com