Top 10 Controversial Cabinet Secretaries/Governement Managers of 2009

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2009 is almost coming to an end. Let us recap the year in Philippine politics with a run-down of the top 10 controversial cabinet secretaries or government managers for the year.

Rodolfo Noel Lozada, Jr. is the former CEO of the Philippine Forest Corporation and former technical consultant to former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri on the national broadband project. He is the famous whistleblower who implicated COMELEC chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr and First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, among other officials, in the anomalous NBN-ZTE broadband deal. Despite his participation as a “star witness” in a House investigation on the anomalous transaction, he was nonetheless implicated in the deal.

Then Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairman Romulo Neri was named the new president of the Social Security System. Previously, he had served as the Director General of the National Economic Development Authority and as Director-General of the Congressional Planning and Budget Office of the House of Representatives, among other government postings. When called to testify at a Senate hearing on September 26, 2007, he disclosed that then COMELEC Chairman Abalos had attempted to bribe him into accepting the ZTE-NBN deal, and informed President Arroyo about it. A known administration ally, Neri joined other Malacañang officials in supporting President Arroyo, despite her administration’s immense unpopularity.

Retired General Angelo Reyes is one of the most widely circulated appointed officials under the Arroyo administration. He once held the plum position of the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Barely two days after his retirement, he became the Secretary of National Defense and chaired the National Disaster Coordinating Council. After stepping down from this post, he was named Anti-Kidnapping Presidential Adviser. Barely five months after NAKTF, he was appointed as the Presidential Adviser on Anti-Smuggling; later he headed the National Anti-Smuggling Task Force (NASTF) as Chief, and is making headway in the fight against smuggling, proving further his mettle and grit in putting an end to the ills that beset the nation. At present, he is the secretary of the Department of Energy.

Francisco Duque III was appointed as Secretary of the Department of Health, while serving as PHIC President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Among the programs he headed is PhilHealth's Plan 500/GMA Indigent Program. Secretary Duque’s name became a household figure in the Philippines in relation to his office, especially when the country was embroiled in the recent swine flu epidemic. It is speculated that he is being touted by President Arroyo to become the new Chairman of the Civil Service Commission.

Known as one of President Arroyo’s loyal supporters, former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza was appointed as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, much to the consternation of environmentalists, who dubbed him “the butcher of Arroceros” forest park in Manila.

Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo V. Puno was elected Representative of the First District of Antipolo City last May 2004. He is the President of Kampi—the administration party of Arroyo. From being overlooked as Vice-President to Gilbert Teodoro in favor of popular actor Edu Manzano despite Puno’s 22 years in government service, Secretary Puno’s moves are being closely monitored today as he took over the supervision of the ARMM following the bloody Maguindanao Massacre.

Former Department of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez began his political career in 1995 when he won the lone congressional seat of Iloilo City in 1995. Before this post, he had served in a variety of government posts in previous administrations. The former Justice Secretary is known for making caustic remarks in defense of the Arroyo administration, ranging from telling church officials critical of the administration to “get a tongue transplant” to telling people to “ignore” UN special rapporteur Alston’s poor rating of the country’s efforts on the eradication of extrajudicial killings.

Bayani Fernando is the controversial Chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority. He served as the Mayor of Marikina for three terms and is credited for making Marikina the progressive city that it is today. He also served as the Secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways. At present, he is running as Vice President in the 2010 elections, in tandem with former SBMA Chairman Dick Gordon as President.

Secretary Arthur Cua Yap was appointed as the 32nd Secretary of the Department of Agriculture on October 18, 2005. First serving with the Philippine International Trading Corporation of the DTI in 2001, he became the Administrator of the National Food Authority, and was appointed Presidential Adviser for Job Creation. He is one of the youngest Cabinet members in the Arroyo administration, and probably one of the most hated figures among rice speculators for importing and selling NFA rice to lower and middle class consumers, depriving rice speculators of expected profit. It has also been alleged that under him, higher priced substandard fertilizers from China are being sold to farmers, without having resolved the issue on the fertilizer scam that rocked the department.

Administration standard-bearer and 2010 Presidential aspirant Gilberto Teodoro, Jr. was appointed as the Secretary of National Defense, following his service as a legislator of the lower house. A lawyer by profession, he worked with the EP Mendoza Law firm after topping the Philippine Bar exams. He is a controversial figure these days as head of the NDCC, which is responsible for spearheading the criticized slow and inefficient government relief and rescue operations for typhoon victims, especially Ondoy and Pepeng. The nation is also keeping a close eye on him as Secretary of Defense following the Maguindanao Massacre.




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