Press Release
February 7, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the new round of Cabinet appointments was motivated by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyos desperate desire to ensure her political survival more than the imperative to address the peoples grievances about the failings of government in critical areas of concern.

Pimentel said the appointment of Antipolo City Rep. Ronaldo Puno as secretary of interior and local government and the reassignment of his immediate predecessor, Secretary Angelo Reyes, as secretary of environment and natural resources is intended to put the Presidents trusted men in strategic government agencies who will implement the administration elaborate plan to foil resignation calls and impeachment attempts against the President.

People, however, should not be distracted by the Cabinet appointments from the source of the problem facing the nation and that is the continued presence of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as president.

Like Medusa in Greek Mythology, she breeds serpents like Puno in her hair. If Puno and his ilk in the Cabinet has to go, Gloria must go first.

He said it is an undeniable fact that Puno was recruited by the President to head the Department of Interior and Local Government because his expertise as a political operator will be indispensable in mobilizing local government officials and citizens at the grassroots level for the administrations alternative option to pursue Charter Change via peoples initiative.

Hounded by unresolved doubts over her legitimacy, President Arroyo has ignored the calls of Catholic bishops and other well-meaning groups to reform herself and her style of governance. As the Hyatt 10 group of resigned Cabinet members aptly put it, the President has not changed her ways behind her every move and decision, there is always a political motive and public interest takes a backseat, the minority leader said.

Pimentel said Charter Change, with the shift to a parliamentary system as ultimate goal, is regarded by the administration with overriding importance that an elected representative to Congress, Puno, will have to renounce his legislative seat at the behest of the President but to the detriment of the interest of his district constituents.

Obviously, he said Secretary Reyes, a retired military general, is being transferred to the DENR by sheer accident as he laughed off the Palaces justification that somebody like him is needed for tougher enforcement of environmental and natural resources laws.

On the Cabinet appointments of Puno and another congressman, Rolando Andaya of Camarines Sur (as secretary of budget and management), Pimentel said it is an unhealthy practice to cut short the term of elected members of Congress, leaving them unable to fulfill their mandate to serve their constituents.

He said the administration may have been hard put recruiting fresh talents from the private sector that it had to raid the House of Representatives of its ranks.

The only new face among the Cabinet appointees is Dr. Esperanza Cabral as secretary of social welfare and development.

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