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Arroyo revamps key Cabinet posts

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 14:23:00 01/21/2009

Filed Under: Politics, Government

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has revamped key positions in her Cabinet, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita has announced.

Press Secretary Jesus Dureza has been appointed chief presidential legal counsel, replacing Sergio Apostol who resigned last year, Ermita told a press conference Wednesday.

Dureza will be replaced by Presidential Management Staff chief Cerge Remonde whose post will be taken by Hermogenes Esperon Jr., presidential adviser on the peace process, Ermita said.

Deputy national security adviser Avelino Razon Jr. will replace Esperon, Ermita said.

The new assignments take effect February 1, Ermita said.

At the same time, he said he had “no inkling” of a bigger reshuffle may be in the works.

Ermita said the revamp was prompted by Dureza’s wish to be given a relatively lighter assignment so he could have more time to tend to his ailing wife.

In a statement, Dureza said he was “greatly privileged and honored” for his new assignment, which he expected to be an “enriching experience.”

Ermita said the reassignments were “not necessarily” related to recent controversial events involving Dureza and Esperon.

Dureza came under fire for praying, during a Cabinet meeting, that Arroyo might continue leading the country “even beyond” the end of her term in 2010.

It was under Esperon’s watch as peace adviser that peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) ground to a halt after the aborted signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain.

“If it [revamp] is because of dissatisfaction [with Dureza and Esperon], maybe they should be asked to leave their posts. The
President feels they continue to be helpful to the administration,” Ermita said.

“Cabinet members serve at the pleasure of the President. The President is aware that the shifting of these officials will be helpful to the administration,” he said.

Ermita said Esperon cannot be blamed for the breakdown of talks with the MILF because he had been appointed peace adviser only three months before the negotiations collapsed.

Dureza was the peace adviser before Esperon.

It was Esperon who recommended that Razon replace him, Ermita said.

Esperon and Razon are classmates in the Philippine Military’s “Marangal” Class of 1974. First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo is an adopted “mistah” of the class.

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Written by joelguinto

WedUTC2009-01-21T14:49:00+00:00UTC01bUTCWed, 21 Jan 2009 14:49:00 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm01

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