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Aquino: Kris, Shalani not in Cabinet but Teodoro may be invited

By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., Philip Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:04:00 05/12/2010

Filed Under: Inquirer Politics, Eleksyon 2010, Elections, Government

TARLAC CITY?Presidential front-runner Benigno ?Noynoy? Aquino III is seriously thinking of inviting his cousin Gilbert Teodoro to join the ?talent search? for members of his proposed Cabinet.

In a press conference Tuesday, Aquino disclosed that he had checked out the ban on hiring relatives up to the fourth degree of consanguinity and found that it did not apply to Teodoro because their kinship was in the fifth degree.

Teodoro, the Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard-bearer, was among the candidates who conceded the presidential race to Aquino on Tuesday.

?That?s possible,? Aquino said when asked if Teodoro was being considered for his planned Cabinet. Previously, he observed that among his rivals for the presidency, only Teodoro and Bangon Pilipinas standard-bearer Bro. Eddie Villanueva had not attacked him personally in the 90-day campaign.

Aquino said that while he was open to meeting with his cousin, ?I will understand if he does not want to talk to anybody in the next few days.?

?He tried to keep the debate at a high standard, and for that I am thankful,? said Aquino, the standard-bearer of the Liberal Party (LP).

No posts for Kris, Shalani

Aquino was firm that his sister, celebrity host Kris Aquino, and girlfriend, Valenzuela Councilor Shalani Soledad, would have no official functions in his administration.

?Kris, I think, craves that she has no role in my government. And Shalani will perform her functions as city councilor,? he said.

So far, only Corazon ?Dinky? Soliman, who quit as social welfare secretary under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo?s administration, has agreed to take up her old post, Aquino said.

He said his top choice for executive secretary was a lawyer-friend?an LP member but not a candidate?who had yet to decide on whether to give up his private practice.

Aquino said a search committee would be formed to oversee the talent search for Cabinet positions.

To trim Cabinet

He said he planned to personally interview all his appointees, who, he added, would have to agree to make sacrifices in the next six years.

?Not only will I not steal but I will [also] go after those who are stealing,? Aquino said.

He said he planned to reduce not only the Cabinet positions but also the number of consultants, and to retain only the important agencies.

Aquino also said he had ?a surplus of talent? from which to choose the members of a commission that would resolve outstanding issues in the Arroyo administration, such as the ?Hello Garci? election fraud scandal and the P728-million fertilizer fund scam.

He said he intended to undo the ?midnight? appointments and deals that Ms Arroyo made in the last months of her term, and that his lawyers were crafting a mechanism on how to counteract her plan to appoint the successor of Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno.

He added that while the Supreme Court had given Ms Aquino the authority to make the appointment, it was an unconstitutional move that should be reversed when he takes up the reins of government.

Transition team

Soliman herself announced at a press conference Tuesday in Manila that with Aquino expected to win the presidency, his campaign was forming a ?transition team? that would negotiate a smooth transition of power with the outgoing administration and also help jump-start the effort to ensure Ms Arroyo?s accountability for alleged crimes.

?One of the sure things being prepared at this stage is the transition team,? Soliman said, adding that Aquino would announce the members of the team ?in the next two days.?

?Senator Noy is making consultations on who will be included [in the team], and their mandate,? she said.

According to Soliman, Aquino will choose the members of the transition team that will lay the groundwork for a commission tasked to go after Ms. Arroyo.

?[Aquino?s mandate] is clear on that, and it is an important thing for those who are with him. I think that will be one of the outputs of the transition team, so that it would already be rolling as the leadership enters on July 1,? she said.

Soliman said Ms Arroyo should be made to answer for the purported crimes that happened under her watch.

Arroyo?s corruption issues

?Senator Noy has said that it is important that Ms Arroyo be made to account for all the issues that have been raised against her, specifically issues on corruption, stealing and even ... killing because I know there are groups that are ready [to file] cases in our courts, and even in international courts, on those three issues,? Soliman said, adding:

?There should be a recognition that she did wrong, particularly, for me, the betrayal of our country which had expected an honest government.?

Special commission for Cha-cha

While he expressed satisfaction with the turnout of votes for his allies in local positions, Aquino said it remained his top priority to talk with members of both chambers of Congress, including the incumbent senators, to gain their support for policy reforms that would set the country on the right course.

Aquino is also expected to form a special commission to determine whether the public would back Charter change and finally resolve this contentious issue.

On whether he would make wholesale changes in the military leadership, Aquino refused to give ?a blanket answer to a blanket question.?

He said there were ?less professional? members of the military brass, and that he might need to call their attention for their actions.

Hyatt 10

Soliman said it was not clear if the ?Hyatt 10? and other former government executives who helped in Aquino?s campaign would get posts in his administration.

She belongs to the Hyatt 10, a group of Cabinet officials who quit their posts at the height of the ?Hello Garci? election fraud scandal in 2005 and called on Ms Arroyo to step down.

When asked about Aquino?s offer for her to join his proposed Cabinet, Soliman said they had yet to discuss details but that she was prepared to do her part in the government.

?He would say before: ?It is important for you to help if we?re able to cross the Pasig and make it to Malacaang.? I would always say that I?m ready to serve the people under the leadership of Senators Noy and [Mar] Roxas,? she said.

Soliman said the Aquino campaign had yet to discuss appointments in the incoming administration because it was still busy making sure that the votes, particularly those for Roxas, would be counted.

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