Is Vic Rodriguez worthy as Executive Secretary? Is he fit for the job?

Sunday, July 24, 2022

One of the most sought after position in the government is the "Little President" of the Malacañang or better known as the Executive Secretary because of the immense power that it holds. 

The executive secretary is the highest-ranking official within the Office of the President of the Philippines. The position is also a part of the Cabinet of the Philippines.

Some of its responsibilities include:

  • directly assisting the president in managing government affairs, 
  • directing the operations of the executive office and 
  • the most controversial part is appointing officials whose appointments do not need the President’s approval.

The Executive Secretary also has the power to:

  • sign papers such as executive orders “by authority of the President,” and 
  • decide on matters for and on behalf of the President if they don’t require the Chief Executive’s personal attention.

The post of Executive Secretary has been held by distinguished men since it was created in 1936. Here are some notable officials who were once Executive Secretary in the Republic of the Philippines: 

  • Lawyer Jorge Vargas, the first Executive Secretary, was appointed by President Manuel Quezon after serving as chief clerk of the Department of Interior and legislative secretary to then-Speaker Sergio Osmeña.
  • Manuel Roxas, the fifth President of the Philippines, also served as Quezon’s Executive Secretary from December 1941 until March 1942, just a month before he was captured by Japanese forces.
  • Ernesto Maceda, a cum laude graduate of the Ateneo Law School, served as councilor of Manila—and was named Outstanding Councilor— before becoming the youngest Cabinet member of then-President E. Marcos as Secretary of Community Development at 29 years old. He served as Marcos’ Executive Secretary in a concurrent capacity as Chairman of the Commission on Reorganization from July 1969 to February 1970.
  • Joker Arroyo held the record as the human rights lawyer who handled the most number of cases between 1972 and 1986 before becoming then-President Corazon Aquino’s first Executive Secretary in 1986. Franklin Drilon served as Labor Secretary for three years and Justice Secretary for one year before his appointment as Aquino’s Executive Secretary in 1991.
  • Teofisto Guingona, who went on to become Vice President under the Arroyo administration, served as senator for six years before his appointment as Executive Secretary. He also chaired the Commission on Audit from 1986 to 1987. Ronaldo Zamora worked under the Marcos and Aquino administrations prior to becoming President Joseph Estrada’s first Executive Secretary from 1998 to 2000.

The longest serving Executive Secretaries were appointed in the past three administrations: Eduardo Ermita, Paquito Ochoa and Salvador Medialdea held the post for six years under Presidents Gloria Arroyo, Benigno Aquino III and Rodrigo Duterte, respectively. Both Ochoa and Medialdea were lawyers while Ermita was a three-term congressman from Batangas who also handled the national defense portfolio under Arroyo.

These notable names who have served as Executive Secretaries only proves that experience is indeed a major consideration when it comes to appointing this position. Past Presidents have picked their respective Executive Secretaries based on their years of service in their posts and have proven that they can rise beyond the demands and navigate their way in the bureaucracy. 

Because of his crucial role as the Executive Secretary of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., ES Vic Rodriguez is now under scrutiny if he is really appointed in the right position.

ES Rodriguez was a barangay captain of Sacred Heart in Quezon City for 10 years before becoming special assistant to the chief of the Business Permits and Licensing Office in 2002 under then-Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte Jr. He later became the officer-in-charge of the city’s Community Relations Office.

Rodriguez’s profile rose when he became spokesperson and chief of staff of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the run up to the 2022 elections. He was named Executive Secretary shortly after Marcos won as President.

The administration, only a few months after the National Election, has been once again under fire because of allegedly appointing the "wrong people" in several key positions in the government. Some were as follows: 

  • Archipelago Philippines Ferries-FastCat owner Christopher Pastrana as Philippine Ports Authority General Manager has been met with criticism owing to perceived conflict of interest and his company’s supposed P132-million debt to the Department of Transportation. So far, Pastrana’s appointment remains in limbo. Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista has instead designated a long-serving ports manager to become PPA’s officer-in-charge GM until further notice.
  • Former Energy chief Raphael Lotilla’s appointment also hit a snag as Malacañang appeared to have been remiss in vetting his credentials. Republic Act 7638 or the Department of Energy Act of 1992 prohibited the appointment of an Energy Secretary who used to be an officer of a private company engaged in the energy industry within two years from his resignation or retirement. Lotilla, however, was an independent director of Aboitiz Power Corp., and the oil and gas exploration firm ACE Enexor. The Department of Justice later affirmed his nomination as “valid and lawful,” but not after the Palace’s head-scratching clarification that Lotilla’s appointment was a “nomination” for now.

Apparently, ES Rodriguez has been in-charge for thousands of Presidential appointees, is this the reason why the announcement of appointments is deliberately moving at a slow pace even now that the new administration has been in full swing and up until now, some key posts are still vacant and waiting to be filled with the "right" official. 

Among other things, the controversial bill involving BBM's veto over Bulacan Airport City ecozone is being pointed to ES Rodriguez as well that made lawyers and investors disappointed. According to sources, he claimed there were “defects” that should be remedied by passing an entirely new legislation.

If this ruckus continuos in the administration then one might conclude that there is someone hell bent in making the President look incompetent in the face of every Filipinos. One would think that the very person who was handpicked himself by the president may seem to backfire to the whole administration itself because one wrong move can reflect the government's efficacy.

These ongoing ridicules and rumors of the Marcos administration will hinder its growth if it continuos and worst, the trust of the public will also be affected, the earlier prevention and scrutiny of each position is advised as well as being vigilant. 🇵🇭

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