Arroyo men start packing bags; rough transition seen

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 12 2010 06:38 PM | Updated as of May 13 2010 02:38 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Members of the Arroyo Cabinet on Wednesday predicted a rough transition ahead for President Arroyo's apparent successor, Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, even as they started packing their bags for the expected arrival of the new president's official family. 

Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza said Mrs. Arroyo and her family have started packing their bags as they prepare to hand over the reins of power to the incoming administration.

“Kasama naman lahat iyang pag-iimpake. Pag-aalis ka na, nagbabalot ka na. I'm not very sure. Palagay ko nagstart na," he told reporters.

President Arroyo has formed two teams -- one based in Malacañang and the other in executive department agencies -- that will work on the transition of power from the outgoing administration to the next one.

Mendoza has been designated head of the Presidential Transition Cooperation Team (PTCT), along with Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo.

The executive secretary said Mrs. Arroyo and her Cabinet are ready to face any investigation after Aquino vowed to investigate the incumbent administration for various corruption scandals.

“Lahat ng mga dadalhin sa korte, not just the First Family, or others who may have erred...The entire Arroyo administration is ready to explain. We will welcome all kinds of investigation as long as its purpose is seeking the truth," he said.

He said he expects few disagreements once the new president settles in Malacañang after Arroyo's 9-year stay. "Maybe some disagreements...The transition is actually to ensure that services would not be affected and there is no break," he said.

Shift in peace initiatives

A new administration could also usher in a new approach to peace negotiations with rebel groups such as the communist New People's Army and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), according to Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Anabelle Abaya.

Abaya said that while the issues are essentially the same, she expects the new government to implement some changes in the ongoing peace negotiations with local security threats.

"I know there may have to be changes in the way we do things...It will be dangerous for the next administration to undo agreements with rebel groups. We did this in all transparency, that’s why we made an effort to get feedback," she said.

For her part, Presidential Management Staff Secretary Maria Elena Bautista-Horn said she hopes the next administration will continue some of the programs of the Arroyo government.

Bautista-Horn, who is a member of the PTCT, said the programs will be contained in a transition blueprint that will be presented to the public before Arroyo steps down.

“Walang fear or agam-agam. The  report card we’re supposed to submit will speak for itself. Makikita sa reports kung ano ang beneficial. Siguro they will have the wisdom to decide to continue [these programs]," she said.

Bautista-Horn said the President wants a very detailed transition blueprint that will provide for the efficient and effective turnover and the continued functions of the bureaucracy in the early days of the next administration.

She said Mrs. Arroyo particularly wanted the blueprint to highlight prioritized programs and findings of the Presidential Task Force on Education.

There is no word yet if President Arroyo will meet with Senator Aquino personally on the matter of transition. Mendoza said he is unsure if the President will attend the inaugural of the next president since it would depend on the decision of her successor.

He added, however, that the First Family has accepted the results of the national elections and is now ready to live life outside Malacañang.

"I was with the First Family and they welcome what’s happening. Lahat ng apprehensions nawala, and that includes People Power, failure of elections and cheating. We’re ready for new life to move on," he said.