[PHOTO- Senators Edgardo Angara, Joker Arroyo, Panfilo Lacson, Kiko Pangilinan and Manny Villar
are barred from running in the 2013 senatorial elections since they have reached their term limit
of serving 12 consecutive years. The Constitution prohibits senators to sit for more than two
consecutive terms.

MANILA, JUNE 19, 2012 (INQUIRER) By CHARISSA M. LUCI - Senator Panfilo M. Lacson may no longer be appointed secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

With the strong opposition of Liberal Party (LP) members, President Benigno S. Aquino III may likely tap Lacson either as the country’s anti-smuggling or anti-crime czar.

Likewise, Sen. Francis Pangilinan, who was reported to be interested as Agriculture secretary, may be appointed Presidential Adviser on Agricultural Affairs.

A House of Representatives source said President Aquino is determined to appoint both senators, whose term of office expires by June, 2013, as part of his Cabinet but is still mulling over where he could fully harness their expertise.

Such consideration was made after members of the administration ruling coalition allied with Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas thumbed down Lacson’s possible appointment to the top DILG post to replace Secretary Jesse Robredo. Roxas’ allies believe Lacson’s appointment to DILG could affect the LP president’s political plans in next year’s midterm polls as well as in the 2016 elections. The DILG has administrative control over local government units, a vital element in an electoral campaign.

“There is no specific and concrete agreement yet, but President Aquino may tap Senator Lacson to clean the Bureau of Customs or as his anti-crime czar since the group of Roxas is against his appointment as secretary of the DILG. In the case of Pangilinan, he may serve as adviser on agricultural matters,” the source said who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“There is no formal discussion yet, but definitely the President is determined to appoint them in the government,” the source said.

If Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon would relinquish his post to run for the 2013 senatorial elections, Lacson would likely get his post.

“It is too late in the day to replace Robredo who is working in the grassroots level for the government. At any rate, Robredo’s departure may affect the Liberal Party’s chances in 2013 elections, especially that Sec. Roxas has still political plans,” the House source said.

Roxas, who lost to Vice President Jejomar C. Binay during the 2010 elections, is reportedly planning to run anew as congressman of Capiz in next year’s elections despite the President’s preference for him to stay in the Cabinet.

The former senator’s congressional bid is inching toward his plan to vie for the House speakership in the 16th Congress, challenging the leadership of Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr., LP vice chairman and a staunch ally of the President, the House source said.

The source added that another possibility is for Lacson to lead the reorganized Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), which is currently headed by Executive Secretary Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa Jr.

Sitting as members of the PAOCC, which runs after government officials and employees, crime syndicates and their cohorts, are the secretaries of the DILG, Departments of Justice (DoJ), National Defense (DND) and Foreign Affairs (DFA), the National Security Adviser, the Armed Forces chief of staff, the Philippine National Police (PNP) director-general, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) director general, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) director, and the Philippine Center for Transnational Crime (NCTC) executive director.

Meanwhile, Pangilinan will likely be appointed agricultural affairs adviser as the President is satisfied with the performance of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.


I covered President Benigno S. Aquino III’s three-day official working visit to the United States early this month.

[PHOTO -THE OVAL OFFICE REVISITED US President Obama hosts President Aquino in the storied Oval Office of the White House on June 8. Minutes after their 20-minute sit-down, they are photographed by Philippine Daily Inquirer lensman Edwin Bacasmas.]

The visit, Mr. Aquino’s third trip to America since becoming president, was upon the invitation of US President Barack Obama.

This was the second time I’ve been to the White House, although it was actually my fourth time on Capitol Hill.

Same old Oval Office has not changed a bit since the last time I covered President Gloria Arroyo.

Same with the occupant. Like with GMA (Arroyo’s initials), President Obama was always flashing a smile whenever he talked with President Aquino and the media.

As usual (?), the US Secret Service and White House media relations officers were very accommodating (!) We, the media entourage, had a chance to take pictures at the media briefing room, with the famous White House logo as backdrop. The office didn’t get any photos of this. It was a personal photo-op for me.

Before the one-on-one meeting, Mr. Aquino had lunch with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her office at the nearby Department of State Building. But we were not invited to lunch. We were ushered out after the photo-ops. Just as well.

We had to rush to the White House.

The US trip was Mr. Aquino’s 15th foreign travel since 2010. But I was only with the President for the third time.

Before flying back to Manila, Mr. Aquino held dialogues with our kababayans in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, where the most fun part happened: We met with Allan Pineda of Black Eyed Peas and American Idol runner-up, Jessica Sanchez. I told you, I’m not going (home) yet even if it’s more fun in the PH.


P-Noy ready with pink slips COMMONSENSE By Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) Updated June 11, 2012 12:00 AMComments (2)

[PHOTO -2010 WISH LIST: THE PROMISE -Noynoy Aquino will appoint public officials based
on their integrity, qualifications and performance record and will hold them accountable
to the highest ethical standards of public office.]


[PHOTO- WAY BACK THEN? -Noynoy could invite
Gilbert Teodoro for Defense, Dick Gordon for the
DOT secretary post and Mar Roxas for the
Executive Secretary post.]



FROM PHILSTAR BY MARICHU VILLANUEVA - This early, or so it seems, Malacañang Palace is clearing the way for the graceful exit of certain Cabinet officials who are reportedly on the chopping block.

But President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, or P-Noy for short, is not known to be heartless in terms of breaking the bad news to his own appointees.

As always, the usual suspects most likely to get the presidential boot are the Cabinet officials whose fate remains uncertain at the Commission on Appointments (CA).

Five Aquino Cabinet officials were bypassed at the CA following the sine die adjournment of the legislative sessions of the 15th Congress last week. Both chambers of Congress would not be back until July 23 for their third and last regular sessions.

Until then, P-Noy would have to issue new ad interim appointments to them. All five were previously reappointed by the President due to the CA’s technical bypass when Congress adjourned for its recess. In order for them to continue serving their respective posts, they would have to be reappointed yet again.

The five are 1. Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon Soliman; 2. Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima; 3. Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo; 4. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje; and 5. Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr.

Of the five, Soliman and De Lima are considered veterans in the CA in terms of having the most number of reappointments issued to them from Day 1 of the Aquino administration. On the other hand, the Palace submitted to the CA the nominations of both Robredo and Paje only a year after they were issued their respective permanent appointments while Jimenez came in after he was appointed in September last year.

Also pending consideration by the CA is Commission on Audit (COA) commissioner Heidi Mendoza who was also previously reappointed by the President. Mendoza’s confirmation troubles began during her stint as resident auditor in Makati City when Vice President Jejomar Binay was still the mayor. Mendoza’s audit report was used in the filing of a graft case against Binay and his suspension by the Ombudsman. Binay never got suspended though as he succeeded in getting an injunction from the Court of Appeals.

Informed sources told me that the Palace has been intensely lobbying for the confirmation of Mendoza. Her appointment papers are stalled in the CA’s sub-committee on constitutional bodies chaired by Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada. By the way, Estrada joined forces with Binay’s United Alliance (UNA) for the midterm elections next year.

Renewed talk of new Cabinet changes was fueled no less by P-Noy himself in his meetings with journalists who accompanied him in his visit to the United Kingdom last week. P-Noy hinted that he might recruit Senators Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan. But he stopped short in saying what appointive posts would be given to Lacson and Pangilinan. Both on their second and last term in office, the two are no longer eligible to run again for the Senate in 2013.

There has been persistent talk that Lacson will be named to the DILG all this time that Robredo has been holding on to this Cabinet post. It has been no secret that P-Noy is not comfortable with Robredo even early on. It reportedly started when Robredo handled the Liberal Party (LP) campaign in the May 2010 presidential election. Robredo though could make a comeback as Naga City mayor.

Unlike Kiko who belongs to LP, Lacson is a very close ally of P-Noy while they were still together at the Senate. When he went into hiding as “fugitive” from the law before the presidential election, Lacson made sure his political lieutenants like now National Food Authority (NFA) chief Lito Banayo supported Noy’s presidential campaign machinery.

On the other hand, Pangilinan is said to be eyeing either the Department of Agriculture or DOJ post. But P-Noy himself has publicly declared that he would like his incumbent Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala to remain in his Cabinet post until the end of his administration in June 2016. So that leaves DOJ open for Kiko since De Lima earlier had indicated her desire to run for the Senate in next year’s elections.

With De Lima out of the Cabinet, Lacson would no longer have any reason to demur from P-Noy’s Cabinet offer, if ever it comes to him. Lacson has not forgiven De Lima for pursuing the warrant of arrest against him over the Dacer-Corbito double murder case.

Even former President Joseph Estrada has only good words for P-Noy’s possible appointment of Lacson as new DILG Secretary. Lacson served as Philippine National Police (PNP) chief during the shortened presidency of Estrada. It was during Lacson’s time when the PNP got a high public trust rating of 53 percent, Estrada pointed out.

Over the weekend, word leaked out from the Palace that Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jose Rene Almendras may be moved to the Presidential Management Staff (PMS). It is not clear yet how soon Almendras, a former classmate of the President in Ateneo de Manila, will take over from incumbent PMS head Julia Abad. The outgoing PMS chief is reportedly going to move to Washington where her husband, who works at the World Bank, has been reassigned.

Two names were floated as possible replacement of Almendras at the DOE: former Finance undersecretary Emmanuel Bonoan and former Energy undersecretary Peter Abaya. Bonoan used to head the Run After Tax Evaders, the anti-corruption arm of the Department of Finance (DOF). He is said to be a close friend of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima. Abaya, on the other hand, is a younger brother of Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya (LP). Peter first served at the DOE during the administration of P-Noy’s late mother, former President Corazon Aquino.

At least, there are valid and credible reasons why P-Noy would finally let go of several Cabinet members. With the May 2013 elections just around the corner, those who would get the pink slips are being given enough time to prepare for their respective candidacies.

As earlier set by the Commission on Elections, the filing of certificates of candidacy is by the middle of October this year.

Thus, P-Noy is now ready to give the pink slips at this stage to his Cabinet members on their way out.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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