Friday, March 26, 2010

Palace bares new appointments

Appointed was radio broadcaster Mario Garcia as director of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. Press Secretary Crispulo Icban Jr. insisted that the President’s latest government appointments were not “midnight appointments.”


New Palace appointments were announced Thursday for the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) and the new National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).

Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza administered the oath of office of five of the nine officials of the new NCMF, led by Secretary Bai Omeira Dimakuta Dianalan Lucman as its head.

The NCMF, which replaces the functions of the Office on Muslim Affairs (OMA) has nine commissioners to be appointed from the 13 Moro tribes and its head bears a full Cabinet rank.

With less than two months in the term of the Arroyo administration, the President replaced Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Arturo C. Lomibao after one year in service and designated him as undersecretary of the DoTC.

Named to replace Lomibao, a former chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), was Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Alberto H. Suansing.

Suansing returns to his old post as assistant secretary of the LTO, which he previously held in 2008, according to Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza.

A former representative to the Road Board and special assistant on land transport at the DoTC, Suansing served as LTFRB head for the past year.

Mendoza, former secretary of the DoTC, however did not say who will assume the vacant post at the LTFRB.

Meanwhile, Lucman told the Manila Bulletin their oath-taking was completed shortly before 4 p.m.

She thanked President Arroyo for making her the first Muslim woman to head a national government office for Muslims.

With her were Commissioners Alladin I. Ampatuan (Maguindanao), Solaiman C. Mutia (Lanao del Norte), Hatimil E. Hassan (Basilan), and Raida B. Maglangit (women sector), former mayor of Kapatagan, Lanao del Sur.

Four others appointed by the President as commissioners were Mufti Jaafar (Taw-Tawi), Prof. Moner M. Bajunaid (Maguindanao), Atty. Edilwasif T. Baddiri (Sulu, youth sector), and Aleem Sharief Julasiri Abirin (Sulu, ulama sector). They will take their oath on Monday.

Republic Act No. 9997 signed by President Arroyo last February 18 created the NCMF and abolished the 23-year-old OMA.

Datu Ali B. Sangki, OMA executive director, other officials and employees will be running the operations of the NCMF on hold-over capacity as provided for by R.A. No. 9997.

Earlier, the President also appointed retired Sandiganbayan Justice Raoul Victorino as her new chief legal counsel, replacing Natividad Dizon.

Dizon, who served less than three weeks as Presidential Chief Legal Counsel, was moved to head the Board of Pardon and Parole.

Dizon took her oath as the President’s legal counsel last March 8 after Raul Gonzalez resigned to run for mayor in Iloilo City.

Mrs. Arroyo also designated retired Justice Agustin Dizon as new Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs, the post vacated by Natividad Dizon.

Also appointed was radio broadcaster Mario Garcia as director of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. Press Secretary Crispulo Icban Jr. insisted that the President’s latest government appointments were not “midnight appointments.”

Icban, in a phone interview, said the President designated the new officials before the constitutional ban on government appointments takes place. The prohibition against appointment or hiring new government personnel in the executive branch starts on March 26, Friday, according to Icban.

He added the President believes the new officials are competent and trustworthy enough to assume the government positions.

Following his retirement from the police, Lomibao, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1972, was appointed head of the National Counter Terrorism Action group and then led the National Irrigation Administration.

A native of Pangasinan, Lomibao went to college at the University of the Philippines before he entered the Philippine Military Academy in 1968. He has a master's degree in public administration and a doctorate in development administration.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Zambales mining outposts demolished

MASINLOC, Zambales – At least two mining outposts here were demolished last week on the order of the municipal council, but the firm’s owner called the move political harassment.

Officials and personnel of Compania Minera Tubajon Inc. (formerly Coto Mining Corp.) said the demolition was carried out by the municipal engineering personnel and policemen without a court order.

CMTI security personnel said the demolition team and armed policemen, some of who were not in uniform, disarmed them as they destroyed the structures on Friday.

Arsenia Lim, CMTI chair, said her candidacy for mayor against Desiree Edora, wife of incumbent Mayor Jessu Edora, was the reason behind the harassment.

“They think that they can intimidate me by this show of force, even using illegal means to do so. But I will not back down. I will file charges against every last one of them instead,” she said.

She also questioned the approval of the demolition, as shown in the council’s February 17 resolution, which came even before the resolution was passed.

Lawyer Yodel Deloso, who represents CMTI, said the municipal government could not use a resolution to order the demolition. “That is usurpation of judicial functions by Masinloc’s legislative body,” he said.

In a telephone interview, Mayor Edora confirmed that no court order covered the demolition. “But a court order is not really needed because they are a nuisance there. They can be removed without involving the court in this,” he said.

He said the security personnel manning the outposts were preventing government agencies from entering that area.

“On your way to Coto mines, there are at least 100 families. How can we give them basic services if these people won’t let us in?” he said.

He dismissed Lim’s accusation that the move was politically motivated.

“It just so happened that there will be election soon. But we’re doing this to reach those people there so we can offer them basic services,” he said. By Robert Gonzaga, Cesar Villa - Inquirer Central Luzon Desk

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dick Gordon is, in fact, the most qualified among the candidates based on his track record

Dick Gordon is, in fact, the most qualified among the candidates based on his track record in Olongapo as mayor and as chairman of the Subic free zone and as secretary of tourism which launched the highly successful WOW campaign besides which he has been doing great service to the country as head of the Philippine Red Cross and he is a no-nonsense public official who will not brook incompetence and will not hesitate to fire crooks and idiots which is why people dislike him and he is not rating well in the surveys which he does not believe in anyway because they are commissioned by moneyed candidates and Dick’s supporters are just waiting to emerge from the shadows to cast their votes and make him win, unless Arroyo and Villar steal the elections or Erap pulls a surprise victory or Noynoy demonstrates the Power of People Power.

Ad Lib -- Greg B. Macabenta


Depending on which radio commentator you listen to, which newspaper you read, and which columnist you believe, the sure winner in the May 10 presidential election is Erap Estrada unless the victory is wrested by Gibo Teodoro who is a sure winner because of his party machinery unless Noynoy Aquino retains his lead over Manny Villar or unless Villar buys out all the voters and overtakes Aquino or unless God finally listens to Bro. Eddie Villanueva or unless Dick Gordon’s Bagumbayan volunteers finally step out of the shadows.

It looks like the only sure losers are JC de los Reyes and Nick Perlas, unless the voices of the true blue reformists are finally heard, above the din of jingles and commercials. Don’t hold your breath.

Of course, one has to consider the fact that Villar is the person who appeals most to the masses because he rose from poverty and from bathing in garbage to bathing in billions that he earned honestly through sipag at tiyaga and by land grabbing and using his influence as congressman, House speaker and Senate president to pull off the billion-peso caper called "C-5 at Taga," according to Joker Arroyo who accused him of violating the Constitution and committing high crimes which makes him the ideal president of the Philippines, because he has set a great example for the poor in the country to emulate according to his loyal supporters Joker Arroyo and the Cayetano siblings.

But still maintaining a slim lead or a growing lead, depending on which survey you want to believe in, is Noynoy Aquino who is the Great Hope of the Country for an honest and committed government, in line with the spirit of EDSA and the martyrdom of his father, Ninoy, and the sainthood of his mother, Cory, except for the fact that he and his family took advantage of the poor tenants in Hacienda Luisita and they lobbied to have the SCTex highway pass through their lands which makes him no different from Villar who really did not make any money out of the C-5 project except a measly 5 or 6 billion, which makes Aquino a sure winner in the presidential elections.

But Erap Estrada should not be counted out because he could still win and the pollsters could all be wrong or could all be right, depending on how you want to read the survey results showing Erap Estrada trailing at third place but gaining 6 points to Villar’s loss of 6 points to Aquino’s drop from 40% to 36%, except that the people can no longer be fooled by the Erap Para Sa Mahirap pitch which, on the other hand, is more sincere than the bogus poverty story of Villar because Erap was raised loving the poor people of San Juan while Villar was raised by a middle-income family in Tondo and Erap never stole money from the government but made his money legitimately from jueteng, besides he was unjustly ejected by someone who turned out a worse thief than Marcos and is now the secret supporter of Villar.

Gibo Teodoro, according to the college population composed of intelligent, idealistic voters who are impressed with the candidates’ good looks and especially that of his vice-presidential candidate, Edu Manzano, could be the surprise winner in the election because he has a greater mastery of the issues in the election, unlike his cousin Noynoy who can only count on the advice of his sister Kris, besides Gibo has the full support of the political machinery of the Lakas-Kampi party which is secretly campaigning for Money Villarroyo who has committed to make Gloria Macapagal Arroyo speaker of the House, which is why Gibo is steadily increasing in popularity while all the rest are decreasing and he will emerge the winner on May 10 unless Villar wins or Noynoy wins or Erap wins.

Dick Gordon is, in fact, the most qualified among the candidates based on his track record in Olongapo as mayor and as chairman of the Subic free zone and as secretary of tourism which launched the highly successful WOW campaign besides which he has been doing great service to the country as head of the Philippine Red Cross and he is a no-nonsense public official who will not brook incompetence and will not hesitate to fire crooks and idiots which is why people dislike him and he is not rating well in the surveys which he does not believe in anyway because they are commissioned by moneyed candidates and Dick’s supporters are just waiting to emerge from the shadows to cast their votes and make him win, unless Arroyo and Villar steal the elections or Erap pulls a surprise victory or Noynoy demonstrates the Power of People Power.

Bro. Eddie Villanueva cannot accept the results of the surveys because he has millions of loyal supporters who are praying to the Good Lord every day and swearing by the platform of honesty and good government of Bro. Eddie who just made a trip to Hong Kong and was met enthusiastically by the domestics which does not show in the surveys which is why the surveys are wrong and he will win in the end because Right always triumphs over Wrong.

And as for JC de los Reyes and Nick Perlas, well, the trouble is that the columnists have not been writing enough about them and therefore there have been fewer occasions for them to be inconsistent in their opinions about the two noble candidates, one of whom is Don Quixote and the other is Sancho Panza. Take your pick.

But lurking in the shadows are the Machiavellian schemers and plotters of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, among them Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales and AFP Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit, who have guaranteed the citizenry a clean, honest, and peaceful election where the military will not allow itself to follow illegal orders which is something Arroyo never gave, anyway, because the orders to Garci to pad the votes to the tune of one million were not illegal, and Arroyo has promised a smooth transition from an administration of great achievements to another one of questionable qualifications, which is why the Comelec is not averse to the idea of a failure of elections that will allow Arroyo to continue in office in order to pursue her good works in the spirit of the would-be- president-for-life, Ferdinand Marcos whose son Bongbong wants to continue his noble tradition in the Senate.

Meanwhile, the Comelec has assured the people of an efficient and flawless automated electoral process because all of the necessary preparations have been made except for a few dozen kinks that may result in some areas having to vote manually but not to worry because the proper safeguards have been put into place so that whether it is manual or automated voting the results will still show the candidate of Arroyo winning, unless there is a failure of elections because there is no power in Mindanao and how can there be an election when the votes of the people in Mindanao, especially in Lanao and Maguindanao are not counted in which case Arroyo will be constrained to remain as a holdover president.

Of course, the Catholic Church, which faithfully respects the separation of church and state and will not do anything to interfere in partisan politics, has already warned the faithful against voting for candidates who are spending tons of money to buy votes and keep media practitioners, columnists, and commentators in their payroll, as well as bribe the military, the police, and the local politicians but all in the spirit of the separation of church and state while performing the duties of citizens of the Philippines, which is what every priest, bishop, and cardinal in the Philippines is.

All of these developments are being closely monitored by the United States and other freedom- loving countries of the world who would like to see a smooth transition from the Arroyo government to a new government in an election that members of the US Congress intend to closely watch so that no cheating is pulled off although in the spirit of respecting the sovereignty of the Philippines, they really should not be meddling in the democratic exercise of an independent nation that has been a dear friend of America through the glorious years of Ferdinand Marcos.

And so we have a citizenry anxiously waiting to vote in the May 10 elections but no longer knowing whom to believe, what to think or what to say because the media and the most prominent, most influential, most intelligent, most committed, most concerned opinion makers in the country are confusing them.

In fact, try asking them: "Who do you think will win?"

Their unanimous response: "Manny Pacquiao!"

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Killer Whale Who Kills

By TIM DESMOND I.H.T. OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR - The death of an animal trainer in an attack by a killer whale, or orca, named Tillicum (or Shamu) at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, has raised inevitable questions. Are these shows necessary? Did animal cruelty trigger the attack? Should trainers work with orcas in this way?

Animal-rights activists followed with pronouncements: “The attack proves that this animal led a tortured life in captivity!” “Free Tillicum!” “Close the zoos! They’re just in it for the money!” Animal exhibitors countered, “It was a freak accident.”

The questions are legitimate and SeaWorld Orlando must answer them. The pronouncements by activists and exhibitors, however, are self-serving and damage the cause of conservation.

Calls to free Tillicum infer that exhibiting killer whales is illegitimate because a trainer died. No. This tragedy had nothing to do with the ethics of putting orcas on public display for conservation education. It is an animal-handling issue.

I agreed to train Keiko, the orca, for the 1993 movie “Free Willy” because the emotional story of a whale’s journey to freedom motivated kids to care about whales, despite the fact that the film oversimplified the issue.

Ethically speaking, the use of Tillicum at SeaWorld is the same as the use of any wild animal, be it a chimp, a bat or a hippo, at any zoo.

In “Ethics on the Ark (Zoo & Aquarium Biology & Conservation),” some of the world’s foremost animal experts, including ethicists, field biologists, zoo professionals and animal rights philosophers, sought to find a consensus on the use of wild animals by man.

They reached consensus on three issues and failed on three others. One question on which they did reach consensus was that taking an animal from the wild for conservation education at zoos and aquariums is ethical.

Yet if you fail to properly care for an animal, you should not keep it.

Was Tillicum well cared for? The activists claim that the attack proved a tortured existence doesn’t hold up. Successful reproduction is a recognized measure of animal wellbeing. Tillicum sired some 13 calves, and has lived with females rearing healthy offspring for decades.

Activists also claim that animals can’t be “normal” unless they live in nature. But natural habitats constantly change. Even bees change their behavior to deal with short-term environmental change — or they die.

The craft of maintaining animals on display is based on creating “adaptive” rather than “natural” environments. Zoo professionals don’t mimic nature per se. Rather, they provide comparable opportunities for exercise, mental stimulation and social interaction.

To provide adequate care for sentient animals, like orcas, caretakers must interact with them. Studies show that training animals is enriching for them. They have to work for their food just as they do in the wild. The problem is keeping humans safe while meeting the animals’ needs.

The working assumption must be that the SeaWorld trainer’s death was no accident. Killer whales know their trainers’ tolerances. While Tillicum may not have intended to kill Dawn Brancheau, he knew he was hurting her. He did it for a reason. Why? I’ll leave that to the investigators.

But I can comment on some underlying factors. Orcas are trained using positive reinforcement (giving the animal something it wants for doing something you want). However, orcas will manipulate training in many ways. They will refuse to cooperate. They will keep other orcas from performing. They will deliberately misbehave, trying literally to train their trainers.

All this is actually healthy because it gives orcas control, something fundamental to animal well-being. It’s fun for skilled trainers, too. But sometimes, in particular with breeding male orcas, it can be dangerous.

I worked with a male orca, Orky, in the 1970s and 80s at Marineland of the Pacific in California. Orky became more dominant and aggressive as he matured sexually. While Orky never killed anyone, he came very close. We handled him safely for years afterwards in much the same way SeaWorld handled Tillicum prior to the tragedy.

The quandary is how do you let a male orca like Tillicum be a dominant, breeding bull and safely provide for his needs?

Activist groups reportedly raised $40 million to “save” Keiko, the star of “Free Willy.” In doing so, they housed him alone for years. Keiko finally died in an environment he could not adapt to. What happened to Keiko stands as a lesson of what not to do about Tillicum.

On the other hand, the continued use by zoos and circuses of elephant training methods involving physical punishment, when options for more humane handling are well established, are difficult to defend.

Zoo organizations still using these archaic techniques need to review their ethical obligations to their animals. Ethical animal display (or activism) hinges on the use of the animal and its care.

My heart goes out to a fallen comrade, Dawn Brancheau, and those who loved her. But nothing in this situation challenges the value of SeaWorld’s public exhibition of wild animals for conservation awareness. Tillicum should stay put, and SeaWorld should be given the time to adjust how they handle him.

Tim Desmond is chief executive of Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium, Inc., which operates the marine park Ocean Adventure in the Philippines, and former president of the International Marine Animal Trainers Association.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Zambales Gov said to have paid campaign fee to NPA

GMA’s son paid campaign fee to NPA–military

Written by Rene Acosta / Reporter

AT least 89 local and national politicians, including President Arroyo’s son, Lakas-Kampi-CMD Rep. Diosdado “Dato” Arroyo of Camarines Sur, paid the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), “permit to win” fees that ensured their victories in the 2007 elections, a military intelligence report said.

The report, which named at least 10 congressmen, including Arroyo and left-leaning Party-list Reps. Satur Ocampo and Liza Masa of Bayan Muna and Gabriela, respectively, nine governors and 31 mayors from four regions around the country, said that the officials continue to support the rebels with money or various supplies.

The communist movement is not only supporting some members of the House of Representatives down to barangay officials, but even Sen. Manny Villar, who is seeking the presidency under the Nacionalista Party (NP), the report said.

Ocampo and Maza are on Villar’s senatorial slate.

According to the report, a copy of which was secured by some reporters covering the defense beat, Villar’s backing from the CPP was discussed during the CPP’s anniversary meeting at barangay Aguid, Sagada, Mountain Province, on December 28, 2009.

Aside from Arroyo, Maza and Ocampo, the other congressmen named in the report are NP Rep. Crispin Remulla and Lakas-Kampi-CMD Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, both of Cavite; NP Rep. Al Francis Bichara of Albay; Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) Rep. Reno Lim of Albay; NPC Rep. Antonio Cerilles of Zamboanga del Sur; Lakas-Kampi-CMD Rep. Cecilia Jalosjos of Zamboanga del Norte; and Matoy Barinaga.

The intelligence report said that the young Arroyo paid a P5-million “permit to run” fee, which was collected for the rebels by Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, who was also named by the report as among the local officials supporting the rebels.

The report said that the money collected by Salceda from Arroyo was delivered to a certain Christopher Flores at the headquarters of Rene Quiapon in Ligao City, Albay.

“Flores delivered the money to Nep Morada…the amount of P4.8 million, which later learned, was delivered to Veronica Paje, wife of Glecernio Pernia, alias Choy,” it said.

Pernia is a ranking rebel leader in the Bicol region.

The same report said that Remulla and Barzaga were paying the underground movement P1,000 monthly.

Bichara allegedly paid the NPA P1 million for a campaign permit, which was given to a certain Mario de la Cruz by Ramir Navas, while Lim gave the rebels P15 million.

“The P5 million was paid for the withdrawal of his opponent, Jesap Salceda, while another P5 million was his contribution to the NPA, remitted to Mario de la Cruz and the other P5 million was for his party, through Nep Morada, which was also remitted to Mario de la Cruz,” the report said of Lim.

On the other hand, Cerilles reportedly gave the rebels “undetermined amount of money and office supplies such as laptop computers.”

Meanwhile, the governors who are supporting the rebels were identified as Amor Deloso of Zambales, Bellaflor Angara Castillo of Aurora, Aurelio Umali of Nueva Ecija, Victor Yap of Tarlac, Eddie Panlilio of Pampanga, Aurora Cerilles of Zamboanga del Sur, Joel Reyes of Palawan, Joseph Cua of Catanduanes and Salceda.

Salceda reportedly paid the guerrillas a P35-million “permit to campaign” fee in 2007, which was remitted to Flores, who is a member of the National Democratic Front in Bicol.

The “P5 million [was] remitted to Rene Quiapon for safekeeping the 2007 elections,” the military report said.

The same report named the mayors as Cesar Barona, Lacub, Abra; Edwin Crisologo, Tineg, Abra; Garde Cardenas, Sallapadan, Abra; Mario Baawa, Malibcong, Abra; Benjie Serrano, Orani, Bataan; Rolando Tigas, Samal, Bataan;

Josie Cuento, Sta Maria, Laguna; Marlo Barrera, Magsaysay, Mindoro Occidental; Celsa Adier, Aborlan, Palawan; Roberto Rodriguez, Taytay, Palawan; Edgardo Tayam, Gigmoto, Catanduanes; Romeo Moreno, Paracale, Camarines Norte; Santos Zafe, Virac, Catanduanes;

Tito Sarion, Daet, Camarines Norte; Esteban Coscolluela, Murcia, Negros Occidental; Eric Saratan, Talisay City, Negros Occidental; Carlos de la Cruz, Matuguinao, Samar; Daylinda Sulong, Lapuyan, Zamboanga del Sur;

Efren Loquias, San Miguel, Zamboanga del Sur; Edmundo Dalid, Tigbao, Zamboanga del Sur; Allan Damas, Kumalarang, Zamboanga del Sur; Mary Ann Cartalla, Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur; Nestor Corvera, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur;

Carl Lademora, San Francisco, Agusan del Sur; Romeo Magadan, Loreto, Agusan del Sur; Enrico Corvera, Nasipit, Agusan del Sur; Ramie Rosit, Boston, Davao Oriental; Rodrigo Duterte, Davao City; and certain Mayors Chua, Calo, Elorde and Rodriguez of Agusan, Carmen, Bunawan and Rosario, Agusan del Sur, respectively.

The intelligence report added that some provincial board members, vice mayors, councilors and barangay chairmen, also in the Cordillera Administrative Region; Central Luzon; Southern Luzon; Bicol region and Regions 6, 8 and 11 are also supporting the rebels.

It said that the board members, mayors, vice mayors, councilors and barangay chairmen are paying the rebels from P2,000 to P300,000 monthly.

Some were also paying quarterly dues since 2007, while others had given the rebels firearms, including Minimi squad automatic rifles and M-203 grenade launchers, rice and other food stuff.

Transition Cabinet formed

The official who signed the broadband deal with ZTE Corp. is now the “Little President” while the undersecretary whose appointment to the maritime authority was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court (SC) now heads the management staff at MalacaƱang as President Arroyo started forming a Cabinet transition team yesterday.

Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza replaced Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita who is seeking to represent the first congressional district of Batangas.

Mendoza’s undersecretary, former Maritime Industry Authority administrator Elena Bautista, replaced Presidential Management Staff (PMS) director general Hermogenes Esperon Jr. The SC had earlier ruled that Bautista’s appointment to two positions was unconstitutional.

There was no word on who would replace Mendoza at the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC). It appeared that some Cabinet members would hold on to their posts in a concurrent capacity until after new officials or officers-in-charge are named.

The President announced the appointments shortly after the SC announced that its ruling, which deemed appointive officials resigned upon filing their certificates of candidacy, was final and executory.

Ermita, in his final news briefing yesterday with Press Secretary Crispulo Icban said Mrs. Arroyo is considering Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs and Presidential Anti-Graft Commissioner Natividad Dizon to replace Secretary Raul Gonzalez as chief presidential legal counsel. Gonzalez is running for mayor of Iloilo City.

Others appointed were Office of the Government Corporate Counsel head Alberto Agra as justice secretary to

replace Agnes Devanadera, who is running for representative of Quezon province.

Agriculture Undersecretary Bernardo Fondevilla was also appointed to replace Secretary Arthur Yap; Technical Education and Skills Development Authority deputy director general for field operations Rogelio Pijuan vice TESDA director general Secretary Augusto Syjuco; and Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Joaquin Lagonera to replace Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr.

Ermita said Mrs. Arroyo has yet to name the replacement for Subic-Clark Alliance for Development Council chairman and Presidential Adviser for External Affairs Edgardo Pamintuan, who is running for mayor of Angeles City.

Except for Gonzalez, all the Cabinet officials tendered their courtesy resignations last week.

Justice Assistant Secretary Arthel CaroƱongan also tendered his resignation yesterday to run as representative of the second congressional district of Pangasinan.

Mrs. Arroyo earlier gave assurance of a smooth transition of power to the next president on the day when she steps down from office on June 30. The administration has fielded former defense secretary Gilbert Teodoro as its presidential candidate.

“It is our duty as well as the duty of all to help the Comelec (Commission on Elections) to ensure peaceful, fair and transparent elections as well as the peaceful transition of power to the new administration,” the President said in a recent radio interview.

Ermita added the turnover ceremonies for the new Cabinet officials could happen anytime next week.

“I can imagine that the other officials involved also are doing their so-called winding down activities, official turnover, so that there’ll be smooth turnover,” he said.

He said Mrs. Arroyo was also ready to fill up posts lower than Cabinet rank that were left vacant for the same reasons as in the case of Deputy National Security Adviser Luis “Chavit” Singson, who is running for governor in Ilocos Sur.

Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes, who is being invited as nominee in the party list 1-UTAK, has not tendered his resignation.

Reyes said he has yet to decide to accept the nomination of the party-list group.

There was no word on Education Secretary Jesli Lapus, who is also being invited as a party-list nominee.

Why Mendoza?

The appointments came a day after the Supreme Court ruled with finality its decision to consider all appointed officials resigned if they filed their certificates of candidacy for the May 10 elections.

Ermita, who served as executive secretary for five and a half years, said Mrs. Arroyo was already beginning thinking of their replacements since early this year but gave no indication of her preferences.

“That is the style of the President—she places her cards close enough to her chest about important designations on Cabinet,” he said.

Ermita said Mrs. Arroyo chose Mendoza as executive secretary for his “experience, competence, loyalty, and reliability.”

Ermita said the post of executive secretary is a “position of confidence” whose task is also “to rally together the Cabinet members.”

With the appointment, Mendoza will now act the “Little President” with the power and supervision of the so-called transition team to allow a smooth turnover for the new President on June 30.

Mendoza served as chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) before he was appointed DOTC secretary.

As DOTC chief, Mendoza represented the Philippine government in signing the scandal-ridden national broadband network (NBN) contract with China’s ZTE Corp. on April 21, 2007.

Mrs. Arroyo went to Boao, China to witness the signing of the contract but she was forced to scuttle the deal with ZTE following the controversy linking her husband, First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, to the irregularity.

Mendoza, for his part, vowed to be more transparent to the media as the new executive secretary.

“I will be accessible and all the questions, we will answer… I have been in the government service for more than 46 years already. I know how to do service and how to behave myself when in a particular situation,” said the former police general.

Mendoza said the primary function of the executive secretary is to integrate and coordinate the efforts of the Cabinet.

He said his function is to oversee the Cabinet during the four remaining months of Mrs. Arroyo’s term of office until June 30, when the new president is sworn in and takes over.

As “Little President,” Mendoza admitted it would be an “enormous job.”

“I am always a soldier. I always follow orders. Personally, it’s a big challenge. It’s a departure from what I came from. The enormity of the job really is there and I really have to face this challenge, of course I am always thinking of how I can best serve the interest of this country and the interest of the appointing authority,” he said.

Mendoza said he would remain the DOTC secretary in concurrent capacity until the President makes an appointment.

He said he would have to give up the DOTC post saying there are legal issues involved in holding two positions in the government.

When asked if he would recommend someone to the DOTC, Mendoza said he would leave it to the search committee to decide.

Mendoza added his successor in the DOTC should continue to improve the nautical highway, create more airports and “most importantly, which we failed to deliver, is the national broadband network. I think our country needs this very well.” –With Evelyn Macairan, By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star)