Lomibao named to Berroya’s job at LTO

Lomibao named to Berroya’s job at LTO
By Michael Lim Ubac
Last updated 11:04am (Mla time) 09/06/2007

MANILA, Philippines — On the eve of her departure for an Asia-Pacific summit in Sydney, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has effected another round of changes in her official family.


She broadened the powers of Solicitor General Agnes Devanadera at the Department of Justice by naming her acting secretary, and kicked upstairs Land Transportation Office chief Reynaldo Berroya by designating him assistant secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications, according to a Malacañang announcement.


Berroya was replaced at the LTO by another key ally of the Arroyo administration, retired Philippine National Police chief Arturo Lomibao.


Ms Arroyo last week named Devanadera as officer in charge of the DOJ in a concurrent capacity after Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez took a medical leave.


Compared to a “caretaker role” as officer in charge at the DOJ, which is only ministerial, an acting justice secretary enjoys all the powers and prerogatives of the office.


Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita told reporters Ms Arroyo made the decision “because there are questions (about a caretaker role), considering so many important cases” were pending with the DOJ.


As officer in charge, Devanadera cannot sign appointments or make decisions, “so she should be given power and authority to sign important” documents, said Ermita.


Devanadera, in turn, designated lawyer Amparo Tang as officer in charge at the Solicitor General’s Office.


A native of Pangasinan province, Lomibao agreed during the last May elections to stand down in the congressional fight for the province’s fourth district, against Speaker Jose de Venecia.


Ms Arroyo also made several other appointments — Francisco Benedicto as undersecretary of foreign affairs, Felecito Masagnay as commissioner of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, and Oscar Inosentes as presidential assistant for judicial affairs with the rank of undersecretary.


Ms Arroyo is scheduled to leave for Australia on Thursday to attend a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic (APEC) forum.


On Monday, Ms Arroyo designated Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno as presidential adviser on political affairs, in a concurrent capacity.


Musical chairs


Ms Arroyo had previously assigned National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales to temporarily oversee the political affairs office after Secretary Gabriel Claudio resigned for health reasons.


Gonzales was directed to concentrate on the case lodged in the Netherlands against Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison, and on possible peace deals with armed rebels.


Ms Arroyo said that Puno, who is also president (on leave) of her Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi) party, would serve “indefinitely” in the dual role of head of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the political affairs office.


Ermita said he understood that Puno would be officer in charge at the office vacated by Claudio.


A stalwart of the ruling party Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD), Claudio underwent delicate spinal surgery on Aug. 8. He resigned from the Cabinet on Aug. 24.


Other members of Ms Arroyo’s official family who were reshuffled recently were Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Romulo Neri, who was “temporarily” moved to the Commission on Higher Education; Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes, who took over the energy department; and acting Defense Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane, who was returned to his old post at the Department of Public Works and Highways.


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