[PHOTO AT LEFT TAKEN LAST JULY 30, 2010, REPORTED BY MEGAN FLORES OF POC: President Noynoy Aquino seems to be serious when he said in his Inaugural Speech that he “will design and implement an interaction and feedback mechanism that can effectively respond to the people’s needs and aspirations.” The Palace announced the members of the President’s Communications Group. They are former Transportation Undersecretary and Business World columnist Herminio “Sonny” Coloma and broadcast journalist and ANC anchor Ricky Carandang. The ComsGroup would be taking over the job of the Office of the Press Secretary. Carandang will be in charge of “messaging” and Coloma, “dissemination.” Meaning, Carandang will write the words while Coloma will release it to the press. The “dissemination” unit will have for its deputy former Inquirer columnist Manolo Quezon III. Meanwhile, Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda will be part of the communications group. But he will not be under either Coloma or Carandang]

MANILA, DECEMBER 27, 2010 (STAR) By Delon Porcalla - Secretary Ricky Carandang yesterday expressed utmost confidence that he, along with fellow spokespersons Herminio Coloma and Edwin Lacierda, will not be on the chopping block of President Aquino when a minor revamp takes effect in January.

“Honestly, it doesn’t bother me at all. I’m not going to spend the holiday or weekend worrying about that (revamp),” he told former Senate president Ernesto Maceda over radio dzRJ.

When asked if he was sleeping well, he replied: “I’ve been sleeping very well, so it’s not a problem for me.” If he doesn’t sense that he would be affected by the minor shakeup, neither do his colleagues in the Communications Group, the former news anchor hinted.

“I don’t see any problem right now with the President with the Communications Group. It doesn’t seem to me that he’s (Coloma) alluded to. Again, the President was very deliberately vague about who that was,” Carandang stressed.

Nevertheless, should he be among those affected, he would always be willing to go.

“If we are, at least in my case, as the whole cliché goes, if that’s what the President wants, then I will do whatever he wants. Again, I’ll be happy to serve as long as he wants me. When he doesn’t, then I’ll be ready to go like anybody else,” he said.

Following Aquino’s disclosure that three secretaries will “at most” be affected by the minor revamp in January 2011, the former ABS-CBN anchor said he felt he was not among the three officials who will have to go.

“Never say never. Right now, I don’t feel that I’m being alluded to by the President. You know politics better than I do, and if you can confirm that nothing is sure until it’s done, so if I’m going to be one of those three then that would be fine with me,” he told anchor Maceda.

Carandang denied previous reports that his benefactor, former senator Mar Roxas, would take over the post of Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., a claim that Lacierda seconded.

Highly reliable sources hinted that among those who will be affected are acting Interior and Local Secretary Jesse Robredo, who will be transferred to the Presidential Commission on Urban Poor.

Nominees for the DILG post include former Cavite Gov. Ayong Maliksi, a Liberal Party stalwart, and retired PNP chief Jesus Verzosa. But Maliksi reportedly wants Undersecretary Rico Puno out of DILG, which obviously only lessened his chances of getting the post.

Verzosa, meantime, is reportedly still enjoying his retirement. In any case, the DILG portfolio may still be given to Roxas, who is eyeing a re-election in the midterm 2013 senatorial elections, since this job requires involvement of local officials across the country.

The second official that may be affected is acting Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, who has been endorsed by the Iglesia ni Cristo bloc, because former Bukidnon Rep. Nereus Acosta will be taking over.

Acosta is an LP stalwart who lost in the recent May 10 presidential and senatorial elections.

Third is Health Secretary Enrique Ona, who will most likely be replaced by Dr. Martin Bautista, who was among the 12 candidates in the LP senatorial slate but who also lost in the May 10 synchronized elections.

There are also reports that former Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon, son of former senator and incumbent Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, may take over the post of Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim, whose “Pilipinas kay Ganda” promo flopped.

Rumors are rife that Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima may have to give way to his patron Roxas, once the one-year ban on losing candidates lapses. Purisima might be transferred to DTI as Secretary Greg Domingo reportedly wants to return to the private sector.

The one-year ban against appointing bets who lost in the elections, according to sources, had been automatically lifted last Dec. 1, as per a Comelec ruling that the one-year ban starts “upon the filing of candidacy,” and not during campaign period or election day itself.

No infighting

Carandang also tried to straighten things out on persistent reports of factionalism among Cabinet members, which reportedly gets in the way of efficient public service programs of President Aquino.

“I don’t want to call it infighting but certain differences of opinion. This really happens like in the previous administrations,” he acknowledged, clarifying that he and Coloma have since patched up their differences.

“Even if there was a bumpy start, Secretary Coloma and I have managed to forge a working relationship that sufficiently addresses the job, so I don’t think that he’s part of that,” Carandang stressed, extending the issue to the impending minor Cabinet revamp.

Just like in any other organization, both on public and private companies, differences both in policy and approach are a common thing, and the only exception to this is that they are now in government .


(MALAYA) Why all the fuss about Noy getting a GF? PRESIDENT Aquino is not in a hurry to enter into another relationship despite reports that he is seeing stock broker Len Lopez of the Lopez clan.

The Palace issued the clarification after Cardinal Ricardo Vidal, archbishop of Cebu, said Aquino should be choosy in selecting a new girlfriend and that he should not rush into a relationship after his break up with Valenzuela City councilor Shalani Soledad.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the President wants to concentrate more on governance.

‘’He’s conscious that if he gets married it might be an additional burden,’’ she said.

Bishop Socrates Villegas hinted during the first death anniversary of former President Corazon Aquino last August that Aquino should remain single.

‘’May you remain our loving, bachelor president,’’ Villegas told Aquino. – Regina Bengco

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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