MANILA,  October 14, 2004
By Marichu Villanueva - The news of his appointment was a bit exaggerated.

Former Philippine National Construction Co. (PNCC) chairman Rolando Macasaet received a public apology yesterday from President Arroyo for the Palace news leak that became the basis of reports that he had been appointed national treasurer.

Mrs. Arroyo issued the apology during her monthly luncheon with Malacañang reporters at the State Dining Hall.

The President said the news could have come from a misunderstanding. She said she had sent the files on Macasaet to Finance Secretary Juanita Amatong, which could have been misinterpreted as an endorsement of his appointment to the post vacated by former treasurer Mina Figueroa.

"I’m sorry that (the reports) should come out. It was at the last stage of the vetting with (Amatong)," she said. "So that’s the last stage of the vetting, but it does not mean that he was it."

Mrs. Arroyo had tasked Trade and Industry Secretary Cesar Purisima to head a committee that conducted the vetting or screening of nominees to the top post at the Bureau of Treasury, an agency attached to the Department of Finance (DoF).

In a statement faxed to The STAR, Macasaet appeared to take the latest development in stride.

"I respect the decision of the President. I am willing to serve her administration under any capacity as she feels fit, for the good of the country," he said.

Mrs. Arroyo’s apology puts a damper on reports that Amatong withdrew the appointment over reports that Macasaet was a former business associate of San Juan Mayor Jose Victor "JV" Ejercito, son of detained former President Joseph Estrada.

Macasaet served as PNCC chief during the Estrada administration.

Although herself an economist, Mrs. Arroyo said she relies on Purisima and the rest of her economic team to work out the details of her administration’s Medium Term Development Plan.

"I think Purisima is a great addition to my economic team. In fact he is the head of my economic team, and it’s not my role to meddle in any transactional issue," she said.

Mrs. Arroyo said her role is to give "strategic direction" to her administration’s "debt management strategy."

She dismissed suggestions that Figueroa resigned because the former treasurer disagreed with her borrowing policy.

"People leave. I mean, we are not a government of personalities. We’re a government of policies," she said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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