PRESIDENT Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III's Cabinet line-up is best described to be a mixture of experienced government officials and those who could be considered as newbies in public service.
A day before his historic inauguration at the Quirino Grandstand, Aquino named the members of his official family in a press conference held in his headquarters in Quezon City.
Aquino has previously asked his Cabinet appointments, some are close friends of his mother the late former President Cory while some are business tycoons, to at least commit themselves to two years of service under the new administration.
Sun.Star compiled a short background of the appointees as they take oath to serve under P-Noy’s (Aquino earlier said he wanted to be called P-Noy --President Noy) administration:
1. Executive Secretary - Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa
Jojo's father, former mayor of Pulilan, Bulacan Paquito Ochoa Sr., was an associate of Aquino's father, the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. The young Ochoa is also the long-time legal counsel of the 15th Philippine President.
On his first day as an executive secretary, P-Noy, through Ochoa, ordered his first memorandum circular. However, it was immediately revised by Malacanang the next day to clear some terms in the memo.
“He has given me the most sound advice on so many matters pertaining to my work as legislator. Therefore, I’m very confident his role as the guardian of my back, he’s more than qualified," P-Noy said of his friend Ochoa.
2. Foreign Affairs Secretary - Alberto Romulo
Romulo, a former Senate Majority leader, first served the government during the time of former President Cory Aquino as part of her economic team. He also served as chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in 2007. He is the only member of the Arroyo Cabinet retained by the Aquino administration.
As senator, Romulo authored legislations such as The New Central Bank Act, Philippine Veterans Bank Act, The Social Security System Act, The Salary Standardization Law, Vital Organ Donation Act and the Rural Bank Act.
P-Noy said his administration is lucky to have Romulo, a senior member among his appointments.
3. Finance Secretary - Cesar Purisima
Purisima formerly occupied the Department of Trade and Industry position. Prior to this, he was chairman and managing partner of SGV & Co. He was also a member of the Global Executive Board and Global Practice Council of Ernst & Young.
4. Justice Secretary - Leila de Lima
De Lima immediately accepted the post after getting the news from the Aquino camp, prompting her to quit her post as the chairwoman of the Commission of Human Rights (CHR). Former chief justice Reynato Puno recommended De Lima after he turned down the post.
“The judicial is a very important portion of our platform and again we are very fortunate to get her to consent to carrying the burden primarily for judicial reform in our country," P-Noy said.
During his oath-taking, P-Noy ordered De Lima to start giving fair justice to all Filipinos.
5. Defense Secretary - Voltaire Gazmin
Gazmin, former chief of the Presidential Security Group (PSG), saved the late former President Cory and his family, from numerous coup attempts. He also served as the chief of the Philippine Army.
6. Education Secretary - Bro. Armin Luistro
Luistro is the president of De La Salle University (DLSU). In a statement released by DLSU, Luistro accepted the position "after due consultation with various stakeholders in the Lasallian community". The Lasallian brothers are very close to the Aquino family.
Luistro, during the turnover ceremony of the Department of Education (DepEd) post, reportedly surprised journalists covering the education beat after telling a radio newscaster: "Wag ninyo akong tanungin, dahil kayong media hindi kayo nakakatulong.”
7. Budget and Management Secretary - Butch Abad
Abad served as the campaign manager of the Liberal Party. He was the former representative of the lone district of Batanes and was also appointed as Agrarian Reform Secretary. On July of 2004, Abad was appointed secretary of the Department of Education by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“The budget is the enabler of all of our policy decisions. We believe he is the best person at the present time to assist us in judiciously spending the people’s funds to help him and help us,” P-Noy said of Abad.
8. Director, National Economic Development Authority - Cayetano Paderanga
Paderanga, a professor at the University of the Philippines School of Economics, also served the same post during the Cory administration.
9. Agriculture Secretary - Proceso Alcala
Alcala, an environmentalist and a non-government organization worker, is a two-term congressman of the Quezon's second district. He is one of the principal authors of the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 and Mounts Banahaw-San Cristobal Protected Landscape Act. He was also a co-author of the Climate Change Act and the Expanded Senior Citizens Act.
According to his curriculum vitae, Alcala pursued relentlessly his advocacy for and dedication to agricultural development, particularly organic agriculture in the Congress.
10. Environment Secretary - Ramon Paje
Paje, a DENR Undersecretary, will take over the post of Horacio Ramos. It was earlier speculated that Ramos will be retained for one year after the ban on appointing defeated candidates has been lifted and senatorial bet Neric Acosta can replace him.
11. DOTC Secretary - Ping De Jesus
De Jesus is the president and chief operating officer of Meralco Corp. He has previously served as the Public Works secretary in the Cabinet of Noynoy’s mother, Cory, and during the time of ex-president Fidel Ramos.
“He is a work-driven individual who will oversee the transformation of DOTC characterized by the NBN-ZTE deal into an agency that truly serves the interests of the people," P-Noy said.
De Jesus ensured the affordability of telecommunications services as soon as he gets familiarized with his department.
12. Labor Secretary - Rosalinda Baldoz
Baldoz earlier served as the administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). She will be replacing Marianito Roque.
13. Health Secretary - Dr. Enrique Ona
Ona is the executive director of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute. He will replace Sec. Esperanza Cabral.
When his appointment was announced to the media, P-Noy said he has instructed Ona with regard to expediting universal coverage of PhilHealth, which was one of the campaign promises of Aquino considering that health is the third priority in the platform of the Aquino administration.
14. Tourism Secretary - Alberto "Bertie" Lim
Lim is the president of the Makati Business Club, a group known to support Aquino even before the latter's campaign started. Early speculations also pointed to showbiz talk host Boy Abunda as the new head of the Department of Tourism (DOT) but Abunda declined the post. Expectedly, Noynoy's sister Kris made the suggestion to the president-elect.
“Tourism is seen as one of the key venues for increasing jobs in the country. We need someone who has proven competence in this field,” P-Noy said.
It was earlier speculated that Lim was offered the position after he contributed to Aquino's campaign. The submitted expenditure reports of Noynoy however did not show that Lim made any monetary contribution.
15. Trade Secretary - Greg Domingo
Domingo is the incumbent secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry. He is expected to be a one-year appointee only since defeated vice presidential candidate Mar Roxas will take over his post.
He is the executive director of SM Investments Corporation. P-Noy expects Domingo to generate more jobs for the Filipino people under his administration.
16. Social Welfare and Development Secretary - Dinky Soliman
Soliman was a member of the “Hyatt 10” who resigned from the Cabinet of outgoing president in July 2005. She has previously occupied the same post.
17. DOST Secretary - Mario Montejo
In describing Montejo during the announcement of his Cabinet appointments, Noynoy said Montejo's team was responsible for the featured slides and waves at the water amusement park Water Fun using Filipino technology.
18. Energy Secretary - Jose Rene Almendras
Almendras, an Ayala executive, is the president of the Manila Water Co. Before joining the Ayala Group of companies, he was the treasurer of Aboitiz & Co. and Aboitiz Equity Ventures.
“We do not want to fall into a trap of regulatory capture. He has his proven competence in the various firms he had headed and worked for, enables him to handle the DOE which is primarily a finance-heavy sector and component of our Cabinet," P-Noy said of Almendras.
19. Public Works Secretary - Rogelio Singson
Singson is the incumbent president and Chief Executive Officer of Maynilad.
20. Agrarian Reform Secretary - Virgilio Delos Reyes
Delos Reyes is the incumbent undersecretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform. He was initially tasked to ensure the agency's mandate of empowering farmer beneficiaries throughout the country.
21. Presidential Peace Adviser - Teresita Deles
Deles was also among the 10 Cabinet and senior government officials who withdrew their support from Arroyo during the height of the "Hello, Garci" scandal.
22. Presidential Management Staff - Julia Abad
Julia is the daughter of Florencio "Butch" Abad, campaign manager of Noynoy. She is also Noynoy's Chief of Staff and member of the transition team.
"She has my absolute trust having run my office. If I have been able to do anything within the Senate it is because of her I think she possesses 80 percent of the brain I am holding," P-Noy said of the younger Abad.
23. Presidential Spokesman - Edwin Lacierda
Lacierda is a long-time friend and legal counsel of P-Noy.
On his first day of duty, Lacierda apologized to members of the media for making them wait three hours for a press conference.
24. Presidential Legal Counsel - Eduardo de Mesa
De Mesa is one of the first lawyers of P-Noy in 1998.
25. Chairman, Commission on Higher Education - Patricia Licuanan
Licuanan is the current president of Miriam College in Quezon City.
“She will now refocus Commission on Higher Education, that it serves the interest of the people rather than institutions that have no right to set up courses they are not competent in teaching," P-Noy ordered Licuanan.
26. Commissioner, Bureau of Internal Revenue - Kim Jacinto-Henares
Henares has already served as the deputy commissioner of the same agency.
Major General Ric David meanwhile has been sworn in as the new Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff while Director General Jesus Verzosa, who will be retiring on the 25th of December, was retained as the chief of the Philippine National Police. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)