Palace stands firm: No Cabinet revamp
- Paolo Romero () - June 24, 2002 - 12:00am
Backtracking from its previous pronouncements, Malacañang announced yesterday there would be no Cabinet revamp despite reports of "flunkers" in the ratings given by the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) to department heads.

Acting Press Secretary Silvestre Afable said President Arroyo has full confidence in her Cabinet members and denied reports that some officials would be sacked over their reported failure to meet targets set in her first State of the Nation Address in July last year.

"She emphasized that movements in her Cabinet have been occasioned not by performance factors, but the confirmation process in Congress," Afable said. "She has determined that targets have been satisfactorily met. And where there have been delays, these have been justified."

Earlier, Mrs. Arroyo appointed Philippine National Police chief Director General Leandro Mendoza to replace Transportation and Communications Secretary Pantaleon Alvarez, who resigned after repeatedly being bypassed several times by the Commission on Appointments (CA).

Mrs. Arroyo also replaced Commission on Elections chairman Alfredo Benipayo early this month with Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chief Benjamin Abalos after Benipayo failed to hurdle the CA.

However, Afable said the reappointment of Environment Secretary Heherson Alvarez, who is experiencing difficulty with the CA, stays. Mrs. Arroyo is confident he would eventually be confirmed by the bicameral body.

"I mean to say that he is secure in his position, but nonetheless, he still has to pass the commission," Afable said.

Any movement within the Cabinet will depend on how the CA will act on the appointments of Abalos, Alvarez and Mendoza, he said.

"That will be the primary factor. As far as the executive branch is concerned, the President is satisfied (with the Cabinet’s performance)," Afable said.

He said Mrs. Arroyo has determined that her Cabinet performed well under current constraints. Afable did not elaborate.

Mendoza’s appointment has been questioned by critics, who said he does not have the necessary background. One CA member predicted that Mendoza will have problems hurdling the commission.

Contrary to reports, the PMS, Afable said, does not maintain a "score card" of individual Cabinet members’ performance.

He said the PMS’ monitoring is "institutionally-based and does not contain any judgmental components or rating systems directed at the officials."

Afable added that the PMS has neither the authority nor right to conduct ratings, much less to discuss this in public.

"To treat each (Cabinet) member’s performance with others defeats the principle of a unified Cabinet, and distorts the projection of overall government performance," Afable said.

"It is simply a basis for the Cabinet to decide collectively where to focus actions as targets are met through time."

News reports said Education Secretary Raul Roco and Interior and Local Government Secretary Jose Lina were given "conditional passing" grades, while Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit got the highest marks.

There were also earlier reports that Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas was about to be sacked by Mrs. Arroyo, but this was later denied by Malacañang.

ACTING PRESS SECRETARY SILVESTRE AFABLE AFABLE ALFREDO BENIPAYO ALVAREZ AND MENDOZA BENJAMIN ABALOS CABINET DIRECTOR GENERAL LEANDRO MENDOZA EDUCATION SECRETARY RAUL ROCO AND INTERIOR AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT SECRETARY JOSE LINA ENVIRONMENT SECRETARY HEHERSON ALVAREZ MRS. ARROYO
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