Ignominious fall from power (1)

By reason of the power he wields and proximity to the President, the Executive Secretary is the most coveted position in the Executive department. He is the primus inter pares or first among equals in the Cabinet, referred to as the “Little President,” owing to the extensive authority he holds. He issues executive and administrative orders “by authority of the President.”

Understandably, the Executive Secretary is the most trusted among the various alter egos of the President. He is the gatekeeper of the Palace. Outside of the First Lady, he has the ears of the President.

Vis-a-vis the roster of previous executive secretaries, the resigned Executive Secretary suffers by comparison, not having acquired the prominence and stature in the profession or field that his predecessors chose to distinguish themselves.

Despite the absence of impressive professional background and glowing earned credentials that the preceding executive secretaries have deservingly tagged to their names, he managed to weave his way to the inner sanctum of the very few close friends of the then defeated vice-presidential candidate and joined his legal team, and acted as campaign spokesperson of the then presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

His appointment as Executive Secretary by the President raised a lot of eyebrows who were expecting someone in the league of the previous ones. Among the Cabinet members, he is the least known and lacked the wealth of experience of government work. Only the President knows why he chose him over other more competent and outstanding legal luminaries. What is evident, however, is he trusted the man, and that is one trait that tilted in his favor.

Just a few days and weeks after his assumption to office, talks swirled about a high official causing the appointment of questionable and undeserving appointees, of imposing millions of pesos as a condition precedent for appointments, and offending political allies of the President by blocking their recommendees. There were rumors also about botched appointments resulting in their recall. There were talks, too, about the high official pocketing huge campaign donations from campaign backers, and unverified allegations of multimillion deposits in foreign banks.

It didn’t take long that the loose talks referred to him. It was bandied about that a person closest to the President asked him to resign, and while he allegedly did, the appointing power did not accept it.

As a consequence, there gradually evolved an incessant call for him either to be fired by the President or for his immediate resignation. Political commentators had a field day speculating and predicting his fall from power.

While all these were happening like a whirlwind, the sugar fiasco blew up, with the Executive Secretary in the vortex of the controversy, and it appears that he mishandled, and that’s putting it kindly, the sugar shortage and the issuance of the sugar importation order. Not even his exoneration by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, which appeared to cover up his undoings and opted to sacrifice the resigned DA officials as scapegoats or fall guys for the joint gross incompetence of the two Cabinet members who triggered the sugar controversy, by wrongly classifying the issuance of the sugar importation as illegal and irregular, could abort the spiraling call for his ouster.

Thereafter, social media was abuzz with a high government official being barred from joining the birthday party of President BBM on 13 September, because the said Cabinet member was “neither a friend or family.” Thereafter, word spread that the said official was going to be replaced by a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Then on Saturday (19 September), the Executive Secretary, who was the subject of intense and continuing negative talks and speculations, issued an official statement announcing his resignation as Executive Secretary citing family reasons. By his resigning, all those ugly talks surrounding his person and his acts at once gained premium.

While those asking for his departure were elated by his resignation, the elation seems to be premature as subsequent actions he made before his announced resignation indicate that he has crafted an executive order and an administrative order designed to make his resignation a ruse to expand his power.

(To be continued)

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