Acosta appointed adviser for environmental protection

- Delon Porcalla -

MANILA, Philippines -  President Aquino yesterday signed the appointment papers of former Bukidnon Rep. Neric Acosta as Presidential Adviser for Environmental Protection.

Three months ago, Aquino said they were creating an office for Acosta, an ally in the Liberal Party, who lost in the senatorial elections last year.                  

Acosta is the second defeated party candidate to join Aquino’s Cabinet, the other being Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas II – Aquino’s then running mate – who took the post after the resignation of his predecessor Jose de Jesus.

The ban on appointing losing candidates was lifted on May 11, a year after the national elections.

Earlier, there were speculations that Acosta would be placed in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Aquino denied this and appointed to the post Ramon Paje, a career environment official.                 

Aside from belonging to the same party as the President, Acosta was Aquino’s colleague at the House of Representatives when he represented Tarlac.

Aquino said Acosta will be tasked to coordinate ecological and environment concerns for a “coherent implementation of policy.”

(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.

Aquino explained that he appointed Paje in a permanent capacity instead of replacing him with Acosta because he does not want Acosta to be involved in political intrigue.

“A secretary has the tendency to be involved in political intrigue which can distract him from doing his job,” he said in Filipino.

Acosta had earlier accused some DENR officials of belonging to several syndicates operating in the department.

Malacañang, meanwhile, denied rumors that Customs commissioner Angelito Alvarez has resigned and that former Muntinlupa City Rep. Ruffy Biazon will be taking over the Bureau of Customs.

“The President is not aware of the resignation of commissioner Alvarez,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte also denied the rumor.

 “We can’t say at the moment because we have not been advised of any other appointments other than the one of Acosta,” she said. “We have also received queries whether commissioner Alvarez has resigned but we are not aware of any resignation.”

Biazon is the son of former senator and now Muntinlupa Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) during the administration of Aquino’s mother, the late former President Corazon Aquino.                             

A source said the younger Biazon – also a defeated senatorial candidate of the Liberal Party in the May 2010 elections – may indeed be appointed as Customs chief. Another insider, however, said there were still no documents drawn up to effect this.

Another source said that apart from Biazon, former renegade Col. Danny Lim – still another defeated senatorial candidate of the Liberal Party – will be appointed deputy Customs commissioner.

Alvarez earned the ire of several lawmakers because of reports of 2,000 missing container vans at the Manila port, losing some P240 million in potential government revenues.         

He, however, refused to resign, describing calls for his removal from office as “unjust and undeserved.”            

The President, however, had expressed displeasure with how things are going at Customs where smuggling has apparently continued unabated. It was reportedly Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima who wanted to keep Alvarez.– With Jaime Laude

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