Cabinet Officials Sworn in after Day-Long Workshop

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Byline: GENALYN D. KABILING

All of the newly designated Cabinet officials were sworn into office last night after a day-long workshop in Malacanang where President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo outlined the governments development agenda in the next six years.

On the eve of her departure for a three-day trip to China, the President presided the mass oathtaking of her new official family at 8 p.m. last night in Malacanang.

Vice President Noli de Castro formally assumed three government posts: Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), presidential adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), and vice chairman of the National Anti-Poverty Commission.

The President administered the oaths of office to Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz Jr., Agrarian Reform Secretary Rene Villa, Education Secretary Florencio Abad, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Michael Defensor, Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano, and Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye.

Mrs. Arroyo also renewed the appointments of Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas, Public Works and Highways Secretary Florante Soriquez, Science and Technology Secretary Estrella Alabastro, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Juliano Soliman, Trade and Industry Secretary Cesar Purisima, Socio- Economic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairman Bayani Fernando, and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles.

Others officials who were sworn in were Presidential Management Staff chief Rigoberto Tiglao, chief presidential legal counsel Merceditas Gutierrez, presidential political adviser Gabriel Claudio, presidential adviser for constituency affairs Edgardo Pamintuan, Cabinet officer for provincial events Conrado Limcaoco, Government Mass Media Group head Cerge Remonde, Cabinet secretary Ricardo Saludo, and senior deputy executive secretary for legal affairs Joe Nathan Tenefracia.

Roberto Pagdanganan also took his oath as chairman and president of the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC), Augusto Syjuco as chairman and Director General of Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Mona Valisno as Education undersecretary, and Agnes Devanadera as government corporate counsel.

The new officials would serve in an acting capacity until they pass the confirmation proceedings in the Commission on Appointments, according to Bunye.

Earlier in the day, the President led a Cabinet workshop with the theme "One Vision, One Mission, One Team" from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Malacanang.

During the workshop, the President discussed the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP) aimed at alleviating the plight of the Filipino family and nursing the local economy.

She also gave policy directions to Cabinet secretaries on the implementation of her 10-point legacy agenda, which focused on livelihood, education, fiscal strength, decentralized development, and national harmony.

"We want to create economic opportunity at home and abroad. This can only be done with a common purpose to put our economic house back in working order," she said.

She asked the Cabinet officials to help finalize her 10-point agenda that would be incorporated in the MTPDP Plan, saying it would highlight the first 100 days of the Arroyo government.

In the livelihood sector, the President told her Cabinet that her government aims to create six million to 10 million jobs, develop two million hectares into agri-business hubs, promote micro-financing as well as entrepreneurship, and establish a solid foundation for a broad middleclass.

On education, Mrs. Arroyo said the government will ensure that Filipino child of school age will be put in school, build 3,000 schoolbuildings a year, and provide at least one computer for each public high school.

The administration also seeks to attain a balanced budget through increased revenue collections and wise government spending as well as decentralized development from urban centers to the countryside through modernized transportation network and digital infrastructure. …