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Who’s not welcome in ‘President’ Grace Poe’s Cabinet?

Jee Y. Geronimo
Who’s not welcome in ‘President’ Grace Poe’s Cabinet?
(UPDATED) In a dialogue with the Makati Business Club, she names at least 3 agencies where she will not keep President Aquino's appointees

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Presidential candidate Grace Poe already has in mind members of the Aquino Cabinet she wants to keep if she gets elected in the upcoming elections.

“I think I should not even mention their names yet because I have not asked them formally,” the senator told hundreds of businessmen on Wednesday, March 16, during the 2016 Presidential Dialogues hosted by the Makati Business Club (MBC) and the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP).

But pressed by MBC chair Ramon del Rosario to reveal at least who she’s not keeping, Poe mentioned a few departments that, for her, are not performing properly. 

“I think it’s pretty obvious. DOTC, I think, will be one of them. BIR, [Department of] Agriculture, to name a few. I think I’ve just created more enemies now. Anyway, I’m used to it,” Poe added. 

The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is led by Commissioner Kim Henares, while the Department of Transportation and Communications and the Department of Agriculture are headed by Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and Secretary Proceso Alcala, respectively.

Poe is openly critical of Abaya, even calling on President Benigno Aquino III to fire him for his “incompetence and shortsightedness.”

She chairs the Senate sub-committee on public services, which investigated the MRT management in 2015. Back then, Abaya vowed improvements in MRT3 services would be felt by first quarter of 2016.

Meanwhile, in her speech before the businessmen, Poe said the country’s tax rates should be determined by economic planners, and not by BIR “or its bosses, or what they think they need in order to meet their collection targets.”

Poe has called for the “re-classification” of tax brackets in the country, pointing out that even if Philippine rates are among the highest, “our government services still have to be improved.”

During a recent sortie in the province of Quezon, Poe slammed Alcala for neglecting the country’s agricultural sector.

No need to ‘fire’ Aquino Cabinet

On Wednesday, Poe said integrity and credibility will be important in choosing her Cabinet members.

“They [should] have the expertise and also the creative capability to be able to solve [problems] quickly. It doesn’t matter to me what party you belong for as long as I think you can do the job quickly and properly,” she added.

On Thursday, March 17, Daang Matuwid campaign spokesperson Barry Gutierrez gave Poe a “friendly reminder”: she does not need to fire members of the Aquino Cabinet. 

“Friendly reminder lang po kay Senator Poe. Malinaw sa batas – specifically sa Book IV, Chapter 10, Section 44 ng Administrative Code of the Philippines – na co-terminus ang mga miyembro ng Gabinete sa presidente na nag-appoint sa kanila,” Gutierrez said in a statement.

(A friendly reminder to Senator Poe. It’s clear in the law – specifically in Book IV, Chapter 10, Section 44 of the Administrative Code of the Philippines – that Cabinet members are co-terminus with the president who appointed them.)

“Ibig sabihin, hindi na sila kailangang tanggalin dahil siguradong bababa sila mula sa puwesto pagkatapos ng termino ng Presidente. FYI lang po,” he said. (That means, there’s no need to fire them because they will surely step down after the President’s term, FYI.)

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Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.