Permanent status for Robredo, Paje

- Delon Porcalla -

BANGKOK (via PLDT) – Acting Secretaries Jesse Robredo of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Ramon Paje of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will soon be appointed in a permanent capacity, President Aquino said here Thursday night.

“It is likely he (Robredo) and Paje will become permanent (secretaries),” the President told Manila-based reporters at the Shangri-la Hotel where he was billeted during his state visit here.

“There might be some changes but not in the Cabinet. We still have to work out some details,” he added.

With Paje’s permanent appointment, the President said former Bukidnon Rep. Neric Acosta would be given a different position but still related to environment and natural disasters and also with a Cabinet rank. Acosta earlier said the President would give him the DENR portfolio.

However, the President could not exactly say if Acosta, who is his ally in the ruling Liberal Party, can be called an “environment czar” pending the creation of such an office.

“He (Acosta) will help me have a better, sharper focus because he will be able to tackle it in a more in-depth manner,” he said.

“We still have to define his title. But basically with his work he can really help coordinate all ecological and environmental concerns to ensure that we can have coherent implementation of our environmental policy,” he said.

The President said he decided to appoint Paje, who is a career official, in a permanent capacity because Acosta might only be drawn into politics in the department. Earlier, Acosta accused some DENR officials of involvement in several syndicates alleged to have links with the agency.

“When you are the DENR secretary, there is a tendency that you will be affected by politics that may only be a distraction to his work,” he said.

The President had clarified that his meetings with Acosta did not involve making any deal with him.

Robredo vows to do his best

Robredo, for his part, vowed to do his best to continue to earn the confidence of the President.

“Everyday we need the vote of confidence of the President and the people he serves. Will try my best to continue to earn it. That’s how I can make a difference in this assignment,” Robredo said.

Robredo and Paje are the only two Cabinet secretaries who were not given permanent appointments because the President was reportedly reserving the posts for his allies, including those who lost their bid in the May 2010 national elections.

Before the President’s confirmation that Robredo and Paje will become permanent members of his official family, the DILG post was reportedly being offered to former Sen. Mar Roxas, Sen. Panfilo Lacson whose term will end in 2013, or former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Jesus Verzosa.

The DILG is one of the powerful departments with direct supervision over local government units, the police, jail and fire bureaus. With Cecille Suerte Felipe

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