Cristino Naguiat

Aquino hard-put to fill 5,000 top gov't posts

Aquino hard-put to fill 5,000 top gov’t posts
By Robert Gonzaga, Inquirer Research, Inquirer Central Luzon
Philippine Daily Inquirer

APPOINTMENTS TO GOVERNMENT POSITIONS are not being made fast enough because President Aquino is hard put to find “good people” to take on public service.

Speaking with reporters at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, the President said he was giving priority to certain government-owned and -controlled corporations (GOCCs) as well as government financial institutions because of “a sense of urgency as we discover that there are transactions that are still being attempted to be pushed through.”

He said an obstacle that his administration was facing in filling up critical positions was “the difficulty of finding good people.”

As many as 4,301 executive and management appointees, as well as over 50,000 rank-and-file employees, were coterminous with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Mr. Aquino has been swamped with applications from persons wishing to join his administration since a month before he was sworn into office.

“We have to find people who will work on our platform and not continue the age-old and wrong platforms,” said Mr. Aquino, whose campaign battle cry was “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap (No corruption, no poverty).”

“The problem is, it’s no joke to enter government service. Your salary will go down, while criticisms will multiply. It’s difficult to convince good people to fill up these positions,” he said.

A Commission on Audit report puts the number of GOCCs at 601.

So far, Mr. Aquino has appointed Daniel “Bitay” Lacson and Cristino “Bong” Naguiat as chairs of the Government Service Insurance System and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., respectively, and Jose Honrado as chief of the Manila International Airport Authority.

Among the other GOCCs are the Bases Conversion Development Authority, Clark Development Corp., Cultural Center of the Philippines, Home Development Mutual Fund, John Jay Management Corp., Laguna Lake Development Authority, Land Bank of the Philippines, Light Railway Transit Authority, Lung Center of the Philippines, Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System, National Electrification Administration, Philippine Ports Authority and Social Security System.

The President was in Subic, Zambales, on Friday to inaugurate the Philippine National Police’s School for Values and Leadership.

He said there would yet be no changes in the top positions of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), including its board of directors.

“We have not reached the SBMA yet. In truth, I’d like to repeat, there are something close to 5,000 positions [to fill up]. And I have to appoint people up to director level,” he said.

However, Mr. Aquino said he had found someone to take the helm of the Metro Manila Development Authority. But he refused to divulge the appointee’s identity.

Asked to comment on Mr. Aquino’s remarks, SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza said: “Well, we hope that the President allows us to finish our term. But of course we serve at his pleasure. If the President [wants a change in the SBMA leadership], of course we will accede to his request.”

Dick Gordon

Arreza’s term as administrator, like that of SBMA Chair Feliciano Salonga, began on Sept. 23, 2005, and ends on the same date in 2011.

Asked Saturday by text message if he was considering appointing to the SBMA ex-Sen. Richard “Dick” Gordon, one of his defeated rivals to the presidency, Mr. Aquino replied: “Haven’t gotten to it yet.”

Gordon said at a press briefing early in June that he was not selling himself to Mr. Aquino in the hope of getting an appointment.

“I love my country,” he said. “If I can be of assistance, why not? But I will not lobby aggressively. I did not lobby for any position with [then President Arroyo].”

Gordon, who served as tourism secretary in the early years of the Arroyo administration, is covered by the yearlong ban on appointments of defeated candidates in the elections.

When pressed to name a post he would like, Gordon, a native of Zambales, said: “If I am given a chance, I would prefer the SBMA. If Noynoy (Aquino’s nickname) feels I can be of service, fine, I’d think about it. I’d be honored to be given the chance, but I will not lobby for it.”

Gordon is credited with transforming the former US naval base in Subic into a free port and investment hub. With a report from Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.

2 unauthorized transactions stopped at Pagcor, DPWH

2 unauthorized transactions stopped at Pagcor, DPWH
By Aurea Calica and Jess Diaz
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Two unauthorized million-peso transactions were stopped at the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

At PAGCOR, Chairman Cristino Naguiat managed to stop a P21.1-million disbursement by a resigned employee.

Jay Santiago, Naguiat’s lawyer, identified the former employee as Pedrito Adao, who was trying to encash a P21.1-million check at a bank. “The encashment was stopped because the bank, taking cognizance of the PAGCOR letter, confirmed with us,” he said.

Naguiat said he had sent a letter to banks informing them that he was the new signatory for all checks of PAGCOR.

The check, issued before he assumed office, was not given clearance, he added.

At the DPWH, Secretary Rogelio Singson stopped an P18-million “midnight contract” for the rehabilitation of a portion of the national highway in Guiuan, Eastern Samar after Rep. Ben Evardone informed him that the 11th-hour deal could result in the dissipation of funds allotted for the road project.

In his letter, Evardone said former public works secretary Victor Domingo inexplicably transferred the P18 million to the town of Guiuan on June 25, or five days before he was to end his stewardship of the DPWH.

The town hired a contractor because it has no engineering equipment and personnel, he added.

Domingo should not have transferred the funds to a local government that has no capability to undertake a road or construction project, he added.

Evardone said at the time Domingo transferred the funds, DPWH field personnel in Eastern Visayas had already started the bidding process for the project.

“They have advertized the project twice and have attracted at least eight bidders, who have already purchased bidding documents. Amid his field personnel’s preparations, out of the blue, Domingo gave away the funds to the town of Guiuan under a memorandum of agreement,” he said.

“He did not consult his district engineer, he did not consult his regional director for Eastern Visayas, not even his undersecretary for the Visayas,” he said.

“He alone made the decision, which is highly suspicious and questionable. “We don’t want any more taxpayers’ money wasted on projects poorly done and on things that my provincemates do not need.

“For instance, we have so many road signs and railings along roads that are rutted and need repairs. The money should have instead been used for rehabilitating these thoroughfares.” Evardone said the road signs and railings were the projects of his predecessor, defeated Rep. Teodulo Coquilla.

“I do not know why tens of millions of public funds had to be spent on these materials when the money would have been put to better use had they repairs the rutted roads instead.”

Naguiat: Banks had to clear checks with us

Naguiat, who serves as president of Eastern Pangasinan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc., said he informed various banks to verify with the new PAGCOR management first before clearing checks.

Based on reports, Naguiat, a classmate of President Aquino at the Ateneo de Manila University, resigned from PAGCOR in 2001 due to differences with his predecessor, Efraim Genuino.

Naguiat had served for 15 years as chief financial officer of Pagcor, managing head of its treasury department and managing head of its audit department, all under the leadership of Alice Reyes who led the gambling agency from 1986 to 2001.

Naguiat said aside from these kinds of cases, Mr. Aquino also asked him to look into possible midnight deals entered into by his predecessor.

There were reportedly a lot of casino and poker licenses granted by Genuino’s board involving multi-million peso contracts. Earlier, Mr. Aquino’s spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the amount involved was P26 million.

However, Naguiat clarified it was P21 million.