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Jose Rene Almendras and Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla Sworn In
« on: November 05, 2012, 01:37:15 PM »
By Lilybeth G. Ison

Before leaving for Laos to attend the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 9), President Benigno Aquino III on Sunday swore in Jose Rene Almendras as secretary to the Cabinet and Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla as the new Energy Secretary.

The oath-taking of the two officials took place at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport departure area.

Almendras, who was included in the 61-member Philippine delegation to the ASEM 9 to be held Nov. 5-6 in Laos, said his new appointment was not a line, but a staff position.

"You will not even see me. We are a staff function. We completely disappear into the bureaucracy," said Almendras in a chance interview before leaving for Laos with the President.

"The line positions are very clear. The Presidential Management Staff and the Office of the Executive Secretary -- those are line functions," he said.

The former Energy Secretary said his being a staff position did not in any way conflict with any of the line position.

"It's a whole structure on how somebody below the secretary level is actually working together with the others to create a more dynamic process. So my position doesn't conflict with any of the line positions," he said.

On the other hand, Petilla, in an interview after the oath-taking, said he cannot promise anything yet as to what he is planning to do with the Energy Department.

He, however, vowed he will do the best he can to solve the country’s energy problems, particularly the power outages in Visayas and Mindanao.

Replacing Petilla as Leyte governor is vice governor Ma. Mimiette Bagulaya.

Meanwhile, in his departure statement, President Aquino said he would push for the strengthening and protection of overseas Filipino workers’ rights and energy security at the meeting.

The President said he would also meet with the Filipino community in Laos, shortly after his arrival there, and tell them the good news about the Philippines.

The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said President Aquino was expected to conduct bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit with counterparts from the European Council, European Commission, Italy, Norway, Poland and Switzerland.

The President will also engage relevant European partners to firm up support for the development of the Bangsamoro entity provided for by a Framework Peace Agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. - pna


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