12 agencies to lead gov’t antipoverty programs
PRESIDENT Duterte’s first executive order may have just shut out Vice President Leni Robredo from leading the government’s antipoverty programs.
Mr. Duterte issued Executive Order No. 1, which placed 12 government agencies primarily tasked with resolving food security and poverty issues under the administrative supervision of his close friend and campaign manager, Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr.
The order, titled “Reengineering the Office of the President Toward Greater Responsiveness to the Attainment of Development Goals,” was signed by the President on June 30, the day he took his oath of office. The executive order was released on Monday to journalists covering Malacañang a few hours before Robredo paid a courtesy visit on Mr. Duterte in Malacañang.
“With the supervision of the Cabinet secretary, these agencies shall primarily evaluate existing poverty reduction programs and, if deemed necessary, formulate a more responsive set of programs complementing existing ones, channeling resources as necessary to reduce both the incidence and magnitude of poverty,” it read.
These are the Cooperative Development Authority, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), National Anti-Poverty Commission, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, National Food Authority (NFA), National Youth Commission, Presidential Action Center, Philippine Commission on Women, Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).
EO 1 also gave Mr. Duterte’s longtime aide Christopher Go more authority as special assistant to the President. Go will now supervise the Presidential Management Staff and the Office of the Appointments Secretary.
Robredo had previously signified her intention to head the government’s programs in combating hunger and poverty.
But Mr. Duterte declared that he would not give her a Cabinet post because he did not want to offend his friend, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos, the son and namesake of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, whom she narrowly defeated in the May 9 elections.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar played down speculations regarding the President’s decision to transfer the control of the agencies to Evasco, saying it was “unfair” to conclude that the order closed the door on Robredo.
“I wouldn’t say it’s shutting the door because maybe the Vice President, in the future, will have a project and she can coordinate with [Evasco],” Andanar told the Inquirer.
Palace spokesperson Ernesto Abella could not exactly explain why Mr. Duterte wanted to put the agencies under Evasco’s leadership. He said it was part of the “streamlining” in the government.
“Apparently, they have some sort of wisdom going on there,” Abella said, eliciting chuckles from journalists attending his first press briefing.
“No, basically I’m not trying to be flip. I’m just saying it has been placed together, it has been clustered [as] such and I’ll bring it up,” he said.
Since the 12 agencies are now under the office of a Cabinet secretary, their heads will no longer be considered a Cabinet-ranked official, Abella said.
In 2014, then President Benigno Aquino III transferred the administration of the NFA and the PCA from the Department of Agriculture to the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization, which was then headed by Francis Pangilinan.
Some of the agencies, particularly HUDCC and Tesda, were used by their former heads as vehicles to advance their political careers.
Mr. Duterte said EO 1 was consistent with the government’s plan to “advance development goals and uplift the quality of life of all Filipinos through a holistic, convergent and participatory approach to leadership and governance.”
“The attainment of national development goals requires the efficient, responsive, and just allocation of resources by eliminating duplication or overlapping of common functions, maximizing resource utilization with minimum disruption to operations, coordinating efforts more closely, sharing information and consistently working in a collaborative manner,” the order read.
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