When Malacañang submits to Congress for confirmation its list of Cabinet appointees, Interior and Local Governments Secretary Jesse Robredo, who is under fire for supposedly mishandling the August 23 hostage-taking crisis at the Quirino Grandstand, won’t be on it. A list of appointments made by President Benigno Aquino 3rd since he assumed office on June 30 showed that Robredo and two other secretaries—Environment Secretary Ramon Paje and Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz—were named only “acting” secretaries instead of being issued “ad interim” appointments for transmittal to the Commission on Appointments.
“The ad interim appointees enjoy his [President Aquino’s] trust,” a high-ranking Palace official said. “The acting appointees are under probation.”
Robredo, a three-term mayor of Naga City and a Ramon Magsaysay awardee for public service, was appointed on July 9 and was among the last named to Mr. Aquino’s Cabinet.
Individuals close to the President and those who had helped in his presidential campaign told VERA Files that Robredo does not quite enjoy President Aquino’s trust, owing to differences that erupted during the campaign.
The President, they said, was unhappy with the campaign schedules Robredo drew up, which were packed with appointments and events that he had difficulty following.
And while President Aquino has given his Cabinet appointees free rein to select their undersecretaries, Robredo had to settle for working with Undersecretary for Peace and Order Rico Puno, who was appointed on July 2, or one week ahead of the Local Government secretary.
Puno, a close friend of the President and fellow gun enthusiast, was assigned to handle the August 23 incident and reported directly to the President.
Robredo admitted he “was out of the loop” during the 12-hour hostage crisis.
On Friday, 11 days after the hostage-taking incident, President Aquino took responsibility for the debacle, admitting that when he offered the Department of Interior and Local Government top post to Robredo, he told him “to address concerns such as coming up with a comprehensive plan on delivering social services to and relocating informal settlers in coordination with the local governments.”