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Cabinet posts await Lacson, Pangilinan

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DAVAO CITY—Senators Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, whose terms will end on June 30, will soon be part of the official family of President Aquino.

Aquino himself confirmed the development in an ambush interview here, saying his two allies in the Senate would be named to several key positions in his Cabinet in what could be a minor reorganization ahead of his State of the Nation Address in July.

Both senators are retiring this June after completing two consecutive terms, and are thus barred from seeking reelection in the May polls.

The President made no mention of specific positions, except that Pangilinan will work in the agriculture department and Lacson will serve as troubleshooter.

“Kiko, in particular, has several aspects of the agricultural sector he wants to concentrate on,” the President said, noting that Pangilinan is a member of the ruling Liberal Party.

“He has already discussed his ideas with Secretary Proceso Alcala, and we will try to maximize his involvement in our administration to the benefit of the agricultural sector,” said the President.

The President did not set a timetable for his new appointments, but he expected Pangilinan to join his Cabinet “in the quickest possible time.”

In a text message to the Inquirer, Pangilinan said he readily accepted the President’s offer, saying he is “willing to help in whatever capacity.”

Lacson, on the other hand, will have a “more general role” as troubleshooter for the President.

“Initially, it will be like a fireman putting out fires. So he will not have a specific agency that he’ll report to,” the President said.

“But when there is a particular group that needs my undivided attention, he will be the one providing that undivided attention. But we still have to work on details (of his assignment),” he added.

In a weekly news forum at the Senate, Lacson said he has accepted the new Cabinet-level position in principle, which he described as “exciting.”

“It’s not an existing position. You’ll find out [more about it] later when we’re already working. It’s going to be exciting. And I’ll create more enemies,” he said.

“Of course, I want to know the details such as how much authority would be granted to me. The reason for this is that when I accept a position, I want it so that I would have to perform. If it’s only a paper position, if it’s a paper tiger, nothing will happen. You’re bound to fail,” Lacson said.

Lacson said that when he accepted the position of Philippine National Police (PNP) chief during the term of former President Joseph Estrada, he made it clear “that awesome responsibility should be supplemented by the commensurate authority he gave to me.”

“After three months, for example, and the President sees that I’m not performing well, he can take away the authority given to me. Of course, [Estrada] gave me blanket authority in the PNP for long time so I was able to do what I wanted,” Lacson said.

Pangilinan and Lacson will retire from the Senate in June after serving two consecutive terms since 2001, when they ran as candidates of the opposition to then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

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Tags: Cabinet posts , Francis Pangilinan , Panfilo Lacson , Philippines , Politics , Senate , senators

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