Maliksi to get PCSO job
Former Cavite Gov. Erineo “Ayong” Maliksi will take his oath as the new chair of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) next week, reportedly the first in a wave of fresh appointments by President Benigno Aquino III of administration candidates who were defeated in the elections last year.
A source said Maliksi met with Mr. Aquino last week and was briefed on his takeover of the PCSO from Margarita Juico, a former appointments secretary of the President’s late mother, President Corazon Aquino, who handed in her resignation on Thursday.
Even as Maliksi’s appointment was only being rumored earlier, antigambling crusader Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz was already expressing unease over the possibility of his taking over as the PCSO’s new chair.
Cruz, the head of Krusada ng Bayan Laban sa Jueteng, said he was uncomfortable about Maliksi’s rumored appointment as he was one of the local officials allegedly linked to the illegal numbers racket.
“I think he is a suspect in jueteng payolas,” Cruz told reporters in an interview.
“I don’t want to judge him right away whether he will do good or not, but there are suspicions that are not too consoling as far as he is concerned,” he said.
The prelate was referring to reports received by his crusading group that Maliksi had been accused of accepting bribes from jueteng operators.
Cruz said he would not be surprised if Maliksi was indeed appointed to replace Juico since eradicating the illegal numbers game, one of the major sources of graft in the country, was not the priority of the Aquino administration.
“What is ‘nice’ with this administration is that jueteng is de facto legal. When the President was asked before why he doesn’t stop jueteng, he said it was not his priority and it remains so until now,” he said.
The same source said the President had also considered for the PCSO post a group of 2013 election losers—former An Waray Rep. Florencio “Bem” Noel, who lost the Tacloban City mayoral race last year to Alfred Romualdez, former Senators Jamby Madrigal and Ramon Magsaysay Jr. and former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel.
Maliksi, a friend and political ally of Mr. Aquino, himself lost the Cavite gubernatorial race to Jonvic Remulla last year. He was at one time mayor of Imus, Cavite, and twice a congressman representing Cavite’s second and third districts.
Preparing for 2016
Militant party-list lawmakers see Juico’s resignation from the PCSO as part of the administration’s, particularly the ruling Liberal Party’s (LP), early preparations for the presidential election in 2016 where LP leader Interior Secretary Mar Roxas is widely expected to square off with Vice President Jejomar Binay.
But Senate President Franklin Drilon and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, senior LP leaders, have denied that Juico’s resignation has anything to do with partisan politics.
“She (Juico) has explained why she resigned. And I will have to take her word for that,” said Abad.
Drilon simply said “no connection.”
At a Palace press briefing on Friday, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. doused speculations that politics played a part in Juico’s resignation.
Coloma said that based on news items written by Juico’s own friends from the Cory administration, “her reason [for quitting] was her desire to return to the private sector and she believed that she had done enough in public service.”
He said Roxas, or the Wack-Wack incident, had nothing to do with Juico’s departure and that he had not received information that the President was dissatisfied with her performance.
Philip Juico heads the board of Wack-Wack Golf and Country Club that suspended Roxas for two months because of the latter’s angry reaction to being charged extra green fees for bringing a guest.
In a statement, Coloma said the President thanked Juico for her dedicated service to his mother “all throughout her presidency.”
“As an esteemed family friend, President Aquino wishes her well on her decision to end her stint in public service,” he said.
Party-list member Antonio Tinio (ACT Teachers) said that with an LP member taking over one of the government’s cash cows, “it appears that the administration party is taking control of one of the key fund sources for political patronage in the run-up to 2016.”
Any group interested in capturing the presidency in 2016 “will really salivate and will do everything to control the PCSO this early,” said Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna.
With the abolition of the pork barrel system, PCSO officials have been apprehensive that more lawmakers would be knocking on the PCSO’s doors asking for some accommodation for their constituents who used to count on medical assistance funds from the congressional pork barrel, or the Priority Development Assistance Fund.
The PCSO was also under increasing pressure to increase its earnings from its lotto operations and to put an end to the illegal jueteng and masiao numbers games by expanding its small town lottery franchises and introducing new games such as Bingo Milyonaryo.
PCSO officials have admitted that the resistance to these new games has come not only from jueteng operators but also from lawmakers themselves.
Zarate sees the resignation of Juico as part of the administration’s preparations for the looming showdown between Binay and Roxas.
This is the “beginning of the end” of the fragile alliance between the President and Binay, said Zarate.
“The early onset of the 2016 election season will certainly result in more intense intramurals, bloodletting, between the two camps. It’s just a matter of time. The disintegration of this precarious alliance may come sooner than later,” he said in a text message.
A source said that the President does not expect Binay, a close family friend who has been topping the popularity polls, to continue his “daang matuwid” legacy. The President has given Roxas at least a year to gain some ground on Binay’s lead in the surveys or he would look outside the LP for his successor, the source said.
The same source said the President was unfazed by Binay’s popularity as he reckoned that his endorsement would provide the winning edge to a worthy candidate.
A Palace source, who declined to be named for lack of authority to speak on the matter, said Juico’s departure had been in the cards long before the 2013 elections.
The source said the President was exasperated by Juico’s handling of the “Pajero bishops” controversy, which unnecessarily rankled Church leaders, the allegedly poor performance of the PCSO under her stewardship, and the negative reports about her husband, Philip.
But Juico points to the strong cash position of the PCSO today. From P3 billion when she took office in 2010, with P7 billion in debts, she leaves the PCSO with more than P16 billion and updated debt payments.
Soon after she took over as PCSO head, Juico claimed that some members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines received as gifts Mitsubishi Pajeros from former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. With a report from Jocelyn R. Uy
Originally posted: 7:32 pm | Friday, May 9th, 2014
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.