Nograles shocked by Pernia resignation, confident in Chua as acting NEDA chief
Chua has been designated acting chief of the National Economic and Development Authority.
The STAR/File
Nograles shocked by Pernia resignation, confident in Chua as acting NEDA chief
Alexis Romero ( - April 19, 2020 - 5:43pm

MANILA, Philippines — The spokesman of the government's task force on the coronavirus disease on Sunday described as "cryptic" former socioeconomic planning secretary Ernesto Pernia's reason for quitting while the government is in the middle of its fight against the pandemic.

Pernia resigned from his post last Friday citing "differences in development philosophy" with some of his fellow Cabinet members. Finance undersecretary Karl Chua, the poster boy of the administration's tax reform program, has been named acting chief of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

There were reports claiming that Pernia stepped down because he had disagreements with fellow officials over post-lockdown scenarios, including what businesses would be allowed to resume operations once the enhanced community quarantine is lifted.

Pernia had proposed a "modified lockdown," including the easing of some restrictions on transportation and the movement of food sources and allowing the reopening of some retail shops that sell basic needs.

'Cryptic reasons'

Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases spokesman Karlo Nograles, also Cabinet secretary, was mum on what prodded Pernia to leave the Duterte cabinet.

"I'm not aware of the reasons behind that (resignation). I also find the reasons he stated cryptic. But during the IATF meeting that day, he was not present because we had a video conference," Nograles told radio station dzBB.

"We did not witness what happened. We do not know the context," he added.

Nograles said officials were shocked by Pernia's resignation.  

"Actually, among us Cabinet secretaries, we were also asking each other what happened but none of us has the answer," the IATF spokesman said.

"Of course, we were saddened by his resignation...While we are saddened by it, we also obviously respect his decision," he added.

Nograles expressed optimism that Chua would perform well as acting NEDA secretary. He said Chua is a familiar figure among Cabinet members and has joined a number of IATF meetings.

"We are used to the work ethic ni Karl. And we know that Secretary Karl Chua will do a very good job,"  Nograles said.

Nograles said Chua is expected to present post-quarantine options during the IATF meeting on Monday, April 20.

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