(Updated 3:43 p.m.) Secretary to the Cabinet Jose Rene Almendras will now be the main person to monitor if the administration is reaching its development goals after President Benigno Aquino III reactivated a Cabinet post that was created more than six decades ago.
Aquino, through Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., issued Executive Order 99 dated October 31 defining Almendras’ roles as Secretary to the Cabinet.
Under the executive order, Almendras’ office was tasked to identify priority areas and set “outcome-based” targets based on the Aquino administration's Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016.
Almendras was also tasked to recommend to the President every year a “detailed and measurable” performance and projects road map, and to ensure its timely execution.
The executive order likewise created the Performance and Projects Management Office under the Office of the President, which will help implement the road map to be set by the Secretary to the Cabinet.
Last Sunday, Almendras was sworn in
as Secretary to the Cabinet. He vacated the top post at the Department of Energy, which was later assigned to outgoing Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla.
The post of the Cabinet Secretary was first created in 1944 during the term of President Manuel L. Quezon. It was first occupied by the Manuel Nieto.
The position was reactivated during the term of President Aquino’s mother, the late President Corazon Aquino. It was then occupied by Jose de Jesus, who also once served as Transportation and Communications chief under the current administration.
Noynoy Aquino’s predecessor, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, also had two Cabinet Secretaries during her incumbency: Ricardo Saludo and Silvestre Bello III.
‘Position of confidence’
In a separate phone interview, Bello described the Cabinet Secretary post as a “position of confidence.”
“The person appointed to this position must have the absolute trust and confidence of the President. Basically, the task of the Cabinet Secretary is to harmonize the vision of the President with the implementation by the Cabinet officials,” Bello said.
He added that the powers and responsibilities given by President Aquino to Almendras are almost “akin” to the duties he had during Mrs. Arroyo’s term.
“I had to monitor all projects undertaken by the Cabinet Secretaries to make sure that they are being implemented well. This is a really crucial position, because you basically make sure that things are being done well in the executive branch,” he said.
Bello served as Mrs. Arroyo’s Cabinet Secretary from 2008 to 2010, when he ran as senator but lost during the last national polls. — Andreo Calonzo/RSJ, GMA News