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Esperon will make good defense chief, says Teodoro

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 17:41:00 04/16/2008

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines — Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said the outgoing Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. would make a good defense chief, as he conceded Cabinet appointments are the President’s prerogative.

Teodoro was reacting to reports he would be moved to the Department of Justice to give way to Esperon, one of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s most loyal generals, who retires May 9.

“I don’t have any reason to doubt that he would, he has experience in the job, he knows what needs to be done. That’s it, it’s the President’s choice,” Teodoro said, when asked if Esperon would make a good defense secretary.

Teodoro said he was not affected by his rumored transfer to another Cabinet agency, and a shake-up, if ever, would not derail reforms at the Department of National Defense (DND).

“That’s part of things that you have to expect when you work in the Cabinet, that there will be such kind of talk, leaks rumors. You just don’t get affected and continue your work,” he told reporters here.

“What were trying to do now is to institutionalize the reforms, you know the PDR [Philippine Defense Reform] program is going full steam ahead, I don’t think any talk like this will derail that, because I remain focused and committed what we have to do,” he said.

Asked if he was inclined to take on a different Cabinet portfolio, Teodoro said: “I won’t comment any further…”

Teodoro assumed the defense portfolio in mid-2007. He replaced Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., a former national police chief, who returned to his old post at the Department of Public Works and Highways.

He is the second civilian appointed as defense secretary under the Arroyo administration, in accordance with the recommendation of the Feliciano Comission, a Palace-formed body that investigated a short-lived mutiny in Makati City in July 2003.

In 2004, Arroyo appointed lawyer Avelino Cruz Jr. as defense secretary. Cruz resigned in November 2006 amid rumors of infighting within the Cabinet.

National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzalez, served as acting defense secretary, in the lull between Ebdane’s exit and Teodoro’s entry to the department.

“It is the President’s choice, the Feliciano report is merely a recommendation and it is up to the President whether or not to take that recommendation given a certain circumstance,” Teodoro said.

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Written by joelguinto

WedUTC2008-04-16T12:25:45+00:00UTC04bUTCWed, 16 Apr 2008 12:25:45 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm04

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