No Cabinet resignation; Rodriguez stays as ES
“I am still here in my office.”
That was how Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez greeted reporters who checked on whether he was still holding his post as the chief aide to President Marcos.
“I don’t know how the rumor started,” Rodriguez told members of the Malacañang Press Corps who visited him on Friday to verify if what was supposed to have been the first Marcos Cabinet resignation were true.
“That’s why I was looking at your faces, and it seems like you’ve seen a ghost. But I am just here. I hardly go out of my office,” he said.
The 48-year-old executive secretary (ES), who finished his law degree at the University of Santo Tomas, has been serving Mr. Marcos even before the son and namesake of the late ousted president ran for vice president in 2016. He acted as chief of staff and spokesperson for Mr. Marcos during the presidential campaign and was appointed ES after the President was proclaimed by Congress in June.
Often referred to as the “Little President,” the ES directly assists the President in “the management of affairs of the government as well as to direct the operations of the Executive office,” according to the Official Gazette.
During the Duterte administration, the ES was often designated as the government’s caretaker whenever the President goes on official trips abroad.
Asked to stay
An Inquirer source, a Palace insider who requested anonymity because he had no official authority to speak, said disgruntled parties wanted payback after Rodriguez allegedly refused their requests to be appointed to certain government positions.
“It has been only three weeks since the start of this administration but ES has already been the target of intrigues,” noted the source, a longtime politician who occupied several elective and appointive positions in various administrations.
Rodriguez was approached by several persons who asked for positions in government offices particularly the Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.—all revenue-generating agencies, three of them corruption-tainted.
“There was pressure [coming from persons] to get reappointed or appointed to lucrative agencies,” the source said.
Rodriguez already volunteered to resign but was asked by the President to stay, the source added.
To the Malacañang reporters, Rodriguez did not categorically say that he had offered to resign or was asked to resign.
He did say, however, that a Cabinet official who accepts his appointment also should accept that he can be asked to step down anytime.
“But until that happens, then you stay,” he said.
“It is clear with the present administration that all those serving under President Marcos, that the moment the President asks you to serve under his leadership, it goes without saying that there’s no permanence,” he said.
According to Rodriguez, he would only resign due to health or family reasons.
“That’s why I am saying, I don’t want to think about those reasons because I don’t want to get sick. I don’t think anyone of us here wants to get sick,” he said.
When illness is cited as a reason for leaving a post, “something must be seriously wrong with your health,” he added.
“I wish you all well, I hope you wish me well, too, health-wise” he told the Malacañang Press Corps.
A report from a website posturing as a news outfit said that a religious group allegedly told Mr. Marcos that his ES was asking for P100 million in exchange for Cabinet positions.
Informed about this, Rodriguez said he would only comment on or explain “things that are coming from verifiable sources.” “But I know you understand, too, if it’s fake news or bordering on chismis. I don’t think it’s proper for anyone, whether a government functionary or an ordinary person to be asked or made to explain,” he said. —WITH A REPORT FROM cathy CAÑARES Yamsuan
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