Maliksi downplays lack of credentials as next PCSO chief

By Paolo Romero, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 13 2014 04:31 AM | Updated as of May 13 2014 12:31 PM

MANILA, Philippines - He may lack the academic requirements, but he has "the heart" for the job.

This was the comment of former Cavite governor Erineo Maliksi on reports that he lacked the credentials to head the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) – a post vacated by Margarita Juico.

Maliksi said that while he has no masteral degree, he is a college graduate and “has the heart to serve.”

Some lawmakers have questioned the qualifications of Maliksi, saying he has no post-graduate degree, a requirement they said is stipulated in the PCSO charter.

“What’s important is that one has the heart to serve. I know how the needy and the poor feel after having served as mayor for three terms and as governor (of Cavite),” Maliksi told The STAR.

“What’s the use of these masteral degrees if you don’t know about the practical aspect of public service – of how the poor really feel, or what their needs and aspirations are?” he said.

He said those who have apprehensions about his appointment can look at his track record as a local official.

“Those who have concerns can see how I had served in the past,” Maliksi said.

The independent bloc of the House of Representatives cautioned yesterday President Aquino against appointing Maliksi, a member of the Liberal Party (LP), to PCSO.

Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, leader of the bloc, said reports of the appointment of Maliksi – who lost the gubernatorial race in Cavite last year – only raised fears that the PCSO would be used to promote administration candidates in 2016.

“We acknowledge the fact that the President has the power and authority to appoint his trusted allies to any position he wants. We just hope that this should not be a ‘payback time’ which may affect the integrity and mandate of the agency,” Romualdez said.

“But with the 2016 elections just two years away, the risks of the position being politicized and the lure of corruption will be immeasurably high,” he said.

He said the bloc is worried that the PCSO, “the last savior of our poor constituents seeking medical assistance and related social needs, would be tainted with so much politics that ‘favoritism’ would be at the forefront of qualifications for grants.”

Romualdez stressed he has nothing against Maliksi, whom he said he respects.

Tightlipped still

In Naypyidaw late Sunday, President Aquino remained tightlipped on the possible appointment of Maliksi as next PCSO chief.

“Can we wait for the appointment? Soon... and we will come to it as soon as possible,” he told reporters after the 24th ASEAN leaders’ summit Sunday night.

Juico resigned last week amid criticism over her management of PCSO, among other issues. But she said she resigned because she wanted to have more time with family.

Aquino said he was still thankful that Juico served in his administration and cited her loyalty to his mother, former President Corazon Aquino.

“I have to weigh that (issues) with the fact that she served not only myself and my administration; but she has also been a constant with regard to my mother, in particular probably from 1978, during the interim Batasang Pambansa elections then all throughout to the time my mother assumed (office), even the portion of my mother’s life when she was no longer president, she was still a constant,” Aquino said.

“When I asked her at the beginning if (she could join), she’s one of the few people I know who had experience with PCSO. So she seemed to be the right individual to place in that position at that time,” he said. “She was hesitant to accept it. She wanted, not as chair, she wanted, if at all, to be a member of the board. So, for her to have rendered service all this time is, I think, suffice to say parang ‘thank you’,” Aquino said.

He said Juico must have felt heavy pressure from several quarters that led to her decision to quit.

“It takes quite a terrible toll on so many things. From your income, to your being the magnet for all criticisms, to having no private life, to being invaded in each and every step... There is a point, I guess, everybody will have a saturation point. And every time that they continue serving our people, I thank them,” Aquino said.

Why revamp?

Aquino also maintained there would be no major revamp in his Cabinet.

“You know, I am always asked about a Cabinet revamp and I wonder why. In all honesty, as I did mention... isn’t it that most of my Cabinet (members) have been with me from day one? So will there be changes? Some of them indicated... they are saying that in a mutually agreed upon time, they would want to go back to their private endeavors,” Aquino said. – Aurea Calica