MANILA – Nine months after the idea was conceived, a new Secretary to the Cabinet was born in the person of former Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras.
In an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN News, Almendras explained why he was taken out of the Energy Department and moved to Malacañang.
“Minsan, may mga programa na [which] cuts across, hindi lang isang ahensya kung hindi maraming ahensyang kasama, kaya niya inisip na dapat magkaroon ng posisyon na ‘yon to help Cabinet secretaries manage some of the challenges, especially the inter-agency issues and help move things faster,” he said.
But Almendras adds this was not to say that the Cabinet's work is too slow.
“Ang Pangulo po is a naturally impatient person because of the details he goes into. The President likes making decisions based on facts, figures, data that's readily available. The accuracy of those data must be unquestionable and must be ready when he needs it. So this is what we mean by this is how you try to move things a little bit faster,” he said.
Almendras’s new assignment would put him in on top of some Cabinet secretaries raising the possibility he would overlap functions with Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., the primus inter pares or first among equals in the Cabinet.
But Almendras sees no conflict professionally or personally with Ochoa or with another key presidential adviser, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas.
“This is not a surprise to any of them, not to the Executive Secretary nor to Secretary Roxas. There have been discussions with them on certain aspects of this move,” he said.
However, Almendras could not say which key initiatives he would be pushing soon, saying part of his new job is to identify these programs in consultation with the president.