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Chavit Singson named deputy national security adviser

By Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:37:00 09/06/2008

Filed Under: Government, Politics

MANILA, Philippines?After a yearlong absence from the political scene, former Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis ?Chavit? Singson is back in the corridors of power.

President Macapagal-Arroyo has tapped Singson as deputy National Security Adviser (NSA) under Secretary Norberto Gonzales, a Malacaang official told the Philippine Daily Inquirer Friday night.

The official, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to make the announcement, said the appointment of Singson was signed by Ms Arroyo this week and would be announced on Monday by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita.

The post of deputy NSA was vacated by retired Army Lt. Gen. Pedro Cabuay, who was moved to the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency effective Aug. 31.

Cabuay replaced fellow retired Gen. Cesar Garcia who resigned due to health reasons.

Together again

According to the Malacaang official, Singson?s appointment does not mean that Gonzales has lost the confidence of Ms Arroyo owing to the collapse of peace talks with the secessionist Moro rebels.

Singson?s re-entry to Malacaang closely followed the appointment to positions of power of three other of his colleagues who, like, him lost in the 2007 senatorial elections when they ran under Ms Arroyo?s Team Unity ticket.

In July, Ms Arroyo named former Sen. Vicente Sotto III as the new head of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).

Weeks later, former Sen. Ralph Recto was appointed socioeconomic planning secretary and director general of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

Recently, another Singson friend, former Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay, was named acting chair of the Local Water Utilities Administration.

Undying gratitude

A businessman, Singson has had a colorful political career spanning three decades.

As a government official, he became kingpin of Ilocos Sur.

In 2000, he won Ms Arroyo?s undying political gratitude when he turned against his friend, then President Joseph Estrada, and told the nation how Estrada had amassed hundreds of millions from the illegal jueteng numbers game.

Singson?s damaging expose triggered Estrada?s impeachment trial, which led to his ouster in the 2001 Edsa II popular revolution that catapulted then Vice President Arroyo to the presidency.

Convicted of corruption by the Sandiganbayan, the 70-year-old Estrada was later granted pardon by Ms Arroyo.

Singson resented the pardon for Estrada, and even threatened at one point to leave the administration camp.

Singson said in several interviews that he felt he had been ?used? as a political pawn.

?If you set him free, why did we file charges against him in the first place?? he had said.

This prompted Ermita to say that an ally like Singson was someone the Palace ?cannot afford to lose.?

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