Palace on revamp talks: ‘Don’t preempt Aquino’

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MALACAñANG on Friday neither confirmed nor denied a report by The Manila Times that a revamp in the Cabinet of President Benigno Aquino 3rd is looming, saying any announcement on the matter would be done “in the right time.”

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“It’s better that we don’t preempt the President regarding this and let us let him announce his decision in the right time that he thinks is best if ever he arrives at such a decision,” Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in Filipino.

He was asked to react to an article written by The Times editorial consultant, Ambassador Rigoberto Tiglao, who said a revamp would be ordered in a “last-two minutes” effort to energize Aquino’s unraveling administration.

Citing his sources, Tiglao said Aquino will be revamping his Cabinet to mark his fifth year in office and that Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya would be moved to head the Defense department while Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin “has been told that he would be Transport[ation]secretary in order to appease him.”

Coloma, however, said talks of a Cabinet revamp have been going around for quite a while and that the President’s position has always been the same—they all serve at his pleasure.

“The President has been asked this question at practically every opportunity, especially when he has official trips abroad and there’s coffee with media. That’s one of the questions that regularly arises and I think he has always replied that the Cabinet members serve at his pleasure and they are subject to the President’s trust and confidence,” he added.

Coloma said he personally believes that there is no imminent plant to reshuffle the official family of the President.

“As far as I can see from where I stand, there is no imminent plan [for]a Cabinet reshuffle or a Cabinet revamp,” he stressed.

Tiglao also wrote that Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima has volunteered his services to Vice-President Jejomar Binay, “whom most polls show is leading the presidential race of 2016.” Purisima, sources said, was unhappy with Aquino.

But Coloma said there was no indication that the Finance chief was planning to leave the Cabinet in favor of Binay.

“There were many occasions that I was… with Secretary Cesar Purisima, especially during the President’s trips abroad. I don’t remember even one instance where I heard him or see him act that way,” he added

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