MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III is not yet announcing any Cabinet movements but he stopped short of confirming reported changes in his official family.
In an interview in Davao City on Wednesday, June 20, Aquino was asked about reports that Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras will be moved to the Presidential Management Staff (PMS).
In past weeks, reports have surfaced that Almendras will take over the job of PMS head Secretary Julia Andrea Abad.
“Wait until I make the announcement. But at the end of the day, don’t forget that a lot of the people who have joined me in the Cabinet are people who gave up very lucrative jobs with very infinitesimal hassles in the private sector,” Aquino said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Aquino said Cabinet members are subject to criticism while receiving low pay. He said sometimes even their children are affected and the only benefit they get is “love of country.”
“So at any point in time when they say that they want to go back to where they were, obviously I’d say thank you to them but I will also endeavor to keep the ones who have been performing within the Cabinet.”
He added, “But it has to be a realistic expectation, a lot of them really have a lot of potentials with a lot less hassles.”
In earlier interviews, Abad’s father, Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad said his daughter now prefers a more “predictable life.”
“Of course, there is a new element in her life now, she is a mother and she certainly wants a predictable life because as you know, the work supporting the President is a work that has no schedule because you are on call,” the elder Abad told reporters.
The PMS head has been spotted meeting with Almendras at a hotel in Pasay City, fuelling rumors on the Cabinet move.
PNoy hasn’t talked to Lacson
Aquino also answered questions about reports that he is eyeing his ally, Sen Panfilo Lacson, to be the anti-crime czar. Lacson is former head of the Philippine National Police.
“We haven’t talked in a long while,” Aquino said.
The President, however, assessed the performance of incumbent anti-crime czar Executive Secretary Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa Jr. Ochoa heads the reorganized Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission.
“[Police] statistics would show that … incidents except those involving tandem riding motorcycle criminals, it went down by more than 50%. In two years time, it dropped 50%. Maybe in another two years or next year, the remaining 50% will be gone.”
Aquino earlier said he is eyeing Lacson to join his Cabinet once the senator’s term ends next year. – Rappler.com
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