MANILA,  September 20, 2004
By Marvin Sy - President Arroyo has abolished the Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security (Cocis) as part of efforts to streamline the Cabinet.

Mrs. Arroyo signed an administrative order repealing and modifying Executive Orders 21, 138 and 150 which authorized the creation of Cocis.

The President issued the order creating three Cabinet clusters to implement her administration’s 10-point agenda.

"There is a need for the President to meet the Cabinet, not always as a whole but in smaller related Cabinet groups, for the effective and efficient implementation of the President’s 10-point agenda," the administrative order stated.

The three Cabinet groups were grouped according to the focus of the 10-point agenda — anti-poverty, security and economic development.

Under the National Anti-Poverty Commission cluster, the President grouped the departments of agriculture, agrarian reform, education, environment, health, labor, social welfare, the secretary- general of NAPC, the director-general of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, the head of the Philippine International Trading Corporation and the chairman of the Commission on Higher Education.

On the security aspect, there is the National Security Council cluster composed of the National Security Adviser, chairman of the Mindanao Economic Development Council and the secretaries of the interior and local government, justice, defense, foreign affairs and the presidential advisers on the peace process and constituency affairs.

The third cluster is the National Economic and Development Authority group composed of the NEDA director-general, the chairs of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and Commission on Information and Communication Technology.

The third Cabinet cluster also included the secretaries of transportation and communications, budget and management, Finance, Trade and Industry, Tourism, Energy, Public Works and Highways, science and technology and the presidential advisers of jobs generation and new government centers.

The creation of the second cluster, the National Security Council Cabinet group, virtually abolished COCIS — a Malacañang body which had been advising the President on national security, foreign policy and related issues.

The new administrative order creating the three Cabinet clusters also appointed former deputy presidential spokesman Ricardo Saludo as Secretary to the Cabinet, or the common secretariat to the Cabinet clusters.

Saludo recently resigned as deputy presidential spokesman citing his need to focus on his additional workload.

On matters involving the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council, the President gave political adviser Gabriel Claudio oversight powers over the NEDA.

Former President Fidel Ramos was the first chief executive to utilize the clustering of the Cabinet according to purpose and function.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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