MANILA,  May 19, 2004
By Marichu Villanueva  -  President Arroyo’s advisers led by National Anti-Kidnapping Task Force (NAKTF) chief Angelo Reyes submitted yesterday their courtesy resignations following the turn of Cabinet officials.

Reyes also resigned from his concurrent post as head of the National Anti-Smuggling Task Force.

However, Reyes, like the rest of the Cabinet officials and other co-terminus presidential advisers and appointees, would continue to hold office until their replacements are named.

Executive Secretary Alberto Romulo said that as of yesterday, almost two-thirds of the members of the Cabinet have already turned in their respective courtesy resignations. He did not name them.

Romulo asked them last week to submit their resignations to the President as a traditional practice by an administration ending its term.

The remaining Cabinet members would submit their courtesy resignations within the week, Romulo said.

"There are 22 Cabinet (members), there are also presidential advisers with Cabinet rank," he said. "It is traditional and customary (that) when there is a new administration (coming in) on June 30 or July 1 to give the President a free hand (at naming his or her Cabinet)."

Congress is set to convene in joint session as the National Board of Canvassers to proclaim the winners of the May 10 national elections.

Under the Constitution, the new president and vice president should take their oath of office at noon of June 30.

Romulo expressed confidence that Mrs. Arroyo will win a fresh mandate given her "commanding lead" over opposition rival Fernando Poe Jr. in partial and unofficial results of the May 10 polls.

Poe’s camp has been contesting the figures showing the President leading by over a million votes, and accuses the administration of massive cheating. Malacañang denies this.

The President, Romulo said, would naturally want "to review their (Cabinet) performance and she wants a Cabinet that is fresh, vigorous and would meet the needs of the future."

Romulo said this would also enable the President to accommodate new appointees from the political opposition in her offer of "government of national unity."

"So we will wait for her to make a decision," he pointed out.

While refusing to name names, Romulo said the "first one" to lead by example in submitting his courtesy resignation to the President is the "primus inter pares" or the so-called "little president" — meaning, himself.

"She (Mrs. Arroyo) has indicated that she envisions a government of national unity so you take her word for it," Romulo said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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