Noynoy to announce members of economic team soon
- Aurea Calica () - June 5, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - President-apparent Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III of the Liberal Party (LP) has reportedly chosen the members of his economic team and would make the announcement after his proclamation.

Sources said former Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima would get back his position while Bureau of Internal (BIR) Revenue Deputy Commissioner for Special Concerns Kim Jacinto Henares would be the agency’s commissioner.  

Guillermo Parayno, who was appointed BIR chief by President Arroyo in 2002, would head the Bureau of Customs, the sources said.

Parayno and Henares worked together at the BIR.

Both Purisima and Parayno were part of the Cabinet officials who resigned from the Arroyo government in 2005 and were dubbed the “Hyatt 10.”

In recent interviews, Aquino said he did not see the need to apologize for appointing people who had backed his campaign because these were the individuals who shared his advocacy for reform.

There were also reports that Makati Business Club executive director Alberto Lim was being tapped to be the Department of Budget and Management secretary, while Cayetano Paderanga Jr. would be appointed National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA)director general.

Paderanga had worked as NEDA chief from 1990 to 1992 and had become a member of the Monetary Board. He is currently an economics professor at the University of the Philippines.

The sources said the appointments of Lim and Paderanga were not yet confirmed, as well as that of De La Salle University president Bro. Armin Luistro, whom Aquino reportedly wanted as education secretary.

Lawyer Edwin Lacierda, whom Aquino said would be the presidential spokesman, was offered to head the commission to look into possible charges against President Arroyo, but the sources disclosed he declined.

Aquino was also reportedly considering young actor Dingdong Dantes and singer-comedian Ogie Alcasid for government positions but had yet to talk to them. Television host Boy Abunda had declined to be the secretary or head any office at the Department of Tourism.

Dantes, Alcasid and Abunda helped Aquino in his campaign. 

Abante Tonite reporter and columnist Renato “Rey” Marfil is being asked to be press assistant secretary. Aquino did not name Marfil yet because he still has to agree to the offer.

Aquino had also given hints that he would like a new Ombudsman under his administration and a strong Department of Justice to run after those who committed wrongdoings under the Arroyo government.

The commission will fall under the DOJ based on Aquino’s plan, according to sources.

Aquino told reporters he wanted Quezon City Administrator Pacquito “Jojo” Ochoa Jr. to be his executive secretary but would also consider him to be his justice secretary or chief presidential legal counsel because of the many cases they would want to pursue and resolve.

Highly recommended

Other sources disclosed that the commander of the Presidential Security Group during the administration of former President Fidel Ramos is among the top choices for the defense post.

Sources said retired Gen. Leo Alvez, a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1966, is reportedly highly-recommended by a powerful group tasked by Aquino to review and implement the reorganization in the defense department.

It was also learned that retired Gen. Voltaire Gazmin, the main contender to the defense post which will be vacated by outgoing Secretary Norberto Gonzales by the end of this month, reportedly endorsed Alvez to be the next defense chief.

Gazmin is said to be eyeing the post of National Security Adviser. Milo Ibrado, elder brother of ex-AFP chief retired Gen. Victor Ibrado, has also been reported to be among those being considered to replace Gonzales.

It was also learned that the top defense post was also offered to former Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr.

‘Retain Cabral’

Reproductive health bill advocates urged yesterday Aquino to retain Esperanza Cabral as health secretary despite strong opposition from some Catholic Church leaders.

Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development Foundation, Inc. (PLCPD) executive director Ramon San Pascual said that Cabral, a staunch supporter of the RH bill, has proven to be the most efficient and effective secretary of the Department of Health under the Arroyo administration.

Reports said that Aquino may retain some members of the Arroyo Cabinet, including Cabral.

But Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family Life of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, has rejected the possible reappointment of Cabral, saying that “there are other more efficient government officials that do not subscribe to her way of thinking.”

Castro said that Aquino’s preference saddened the country’s bishops as Cabral is a known advocate of the RH bill.

“Her unwavering support for reproductive health does not reveal inefficiency, rather it shows courage of the heart and strength of character, traits that we need badly among our leaders,” San Pascual stressed.

Smear campaign hit

The president of the Association of Socio-economic Advancement of Pinoys (ASAP), an umbrella organization of groups that supported the candidacy of Aquino, decried yesterday the smear campaign directed at former government officials who are being eyed by the president-apparent to be part of his Cabinet.

ASAP president Roy Sangil told The STAR in a telephone interview that a news article published in a national daily (not The STAR) had quoted him attacking the initial list of Aquino appointees.

“But I never issued such statement, I was quoted for something I never said,” Sangil said.

Some of those being eyed to become Cabinet members were described in the article as “recycled officials.”

Aquino was likewise urged to be cautious in his choice of officials.

Sangil said his lawyers have sent a demand letter to the newspaper and his group will take legal action to clear his name. – With Jaime Laude, Helen Flores, Perseus Echeminada

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