GMA Swears in 14 Cabinet Officials

By Maglalang, Ferdie J. | Manila Bulletin, January 27, 2001 | Go to article overview

GMA Swears in 14 Cabinet Officials


Maglalang, Ferdie J., Manila Bulletin


President Macapagal Arroyo swore in yesterday 14 members of her official Cabinet as she bared new appointments in key government positions unceremoniously vacated by the now-defunct Estrada administration.

In a ceremony in Malacanang, the President administered to them the oath of office "to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the Philippines" as they pledged to follow ethical standards befitting a public official.

Sworn in were Executive Secretary Renato de Villa, Finance Secretary Alberto Romulo, Justice Secretary Hernando Perez, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, Tourism Secretary Richard Gordon, Transportation Secretary Pantaleon Alvarez, Budget Secretary Emilia Boncodin, and Press Secretary Noel Cabrera.

Also sworn in were Dante Canlas as director general of the National Economic and Development Authority, Vicky Gachitorena as head of the Presidential Managemen Staff, Benjamin Abalos as chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority, Paul Dominguez as presidential assistant for regional development, Eduardo Ermita as presidential adviser on the peace process, and Avelino Cruz as chief presidential legal counsel.

Some of the other appointees - Interior and Local Government Secretary Jose Lina Jr., Energy Secretary Jesus Alcordo, Education Secretary Raul Roco, Public Works Secretary Simeon Datumanong, and National Security Adviser Lisandro Abadia - opted to put off their oath-taking to another day.

Both Roco and Datumanong will formally assume their offices once their terms of office as senator and congressman, respectively, effectively end early next month.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive also appointed former congressman Mar Roxas as trade secretary, Felimon Uriate as science and technology secretary, Rep. Michael Defensor as head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, and Teresita Quintos Deles as chief convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commission.

Sources close to the President revealed that Ermita has also been named as acting defense secretary, replacing former senator Orlando Mercado who objected to the appointment of Lisandro Abadia as national security adviser.

In an earlier Cabinet meeting yesterday morning, the President and her Cabinet officials pledged to adhere to at least eight ethical standards that would guide them during their stewardship of the government.

Among these standards specified in what was called as "moral compass" include trustworthiness, results-orientation, poverty focus, citizen empowerment and participation, constituency feedback, continuous improvement, respect fo others and a simply lifestyle.

Appeal

President Macapagal Arroyo appealed yesterday to her detractors to give her Cabinet appointees, particularly the "relatively unknown" from Mindanao, a chance to prove themselves before they lump them in the same category as the traditional politicians or "trapos."

The President said some of her recent new appointments raised some eyebrows because "they are new faces and relatively known in the centers of financial power."

She particularly referred to newly designated Education Secretary Raul Roco "as not in the mold of trapo" and new Public Works and Highways Secretary Simeon Datumanong and Transportation and Communication Secretary Pantaleon Alvarez as "new faces."

"I am making a special appeal: Please give Mindanao a chance. We need new faces. We need the face of Mindanao in the Cabinet. This has been the clamor of that long-neglected island. They don't want token positions," she said.

The Chief Executive said she is aware that questions have been raised on her recent new appointees and appealed to the people, particularly the business groups to back her up on this.

"Even if there are questions in Makati City, there is grand euphoria in Mindanao because finally Mindanao is in the mainstream of the Cahinet. …

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