President Rodrigo Duterte has issued his first Executive Order (EO) and it is not about Freedom of Information as many had hoped.
The first signed EO gave extra powers to Cabinet Secretary Leoncio “Jun” Evasco Jr. and his special assistant, Christopher “Bong” Go.
Under Executive Order (EO) 1 entitled “Reengineering the Office of the President Toward Greater Responsiveness to the Attainment of Development Goals,” Evasco was given the power to oversee 12 agencies that were previously under the Office of the President.
These are the Cooperative Development Authority, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, National Anti-Poverty Commission, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, National Food Authority, National Youth Commission, Office of the President- Presidential Action Center, Philippine Commission on Women, Philippine Coconut Authority, Presidential Commission on the Urban Poor and Technical Education, Skills and Development Authority.
By supervising these agencies, Evasco will “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.”
Evasco, a former rebel priest who served as mayor of Bohol’s Maribojoc municipality, was Duterte’s election campaign manager and long-time chief of staff.
Under Evasco, the agencies will also develop “specific programs and projects that seek to reduce poverty, improve the lives of the most vulnerable sectors of society.”
The agencies are also are tasked to “conduct consultations with LGUs [local government untis]for the proper allocation of resources and program implementation” and “recommend courses of action for the government.”
Go, meanwhile, will have supervision over the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) and Office of the Appointments Secretary.
EO 1 also created the Office of the President-Events Management Cluster “ensure effective collaboration among the offices and/or units involved in the preparations for and the management of Presidential engagements.”
The OP-EMC will be composed of the PMS, Presidential Security Group (PSG), Office of the Chief Presidential Protocol, Media Accreditation and Relations Office (MARO) and Radio-Television Malacañang (RTVM).
Duterte’s first executive order, however, erroneously referred to a different provision of the 1987 Constitution to justify the reorganization.
It said “Section 7 of the 1987 Constitution provides that the President shall have control of the executive departments, and offices.”
But it is actually Article 7, Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution that contains that provision.
When told about the error, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said, “Noted, we will act on that.”
It was not clear if a new order will be issued to correct the mistake.
“We will take note of the pointers and we will act accordingly,” Abella said.