Recto resignation not a loss at all — Ermita

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — “NOT a loss at all.”

Thus declared Malacañang as it predicted more exodus of Cabinet secretaries in preparation for the 2010 elections.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita assured that the Palace is well prepared for such resignations, pointing it has anticipated it happening as the deadline nears for the filing of certificates of candidacies for the 2010 elections by the third week of November this year.

Ermita reacted to the resignation of National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) chief Ralph Recto.

Ermita also dismissed speculations that Recto’s quitting the Cabinet is linked with his reported differences with Energy chief Angelo Reyes in policies with the pricing of oil products.

In fact, the Palace official doubts it to be at the root of it, pointing out that Recto wants to make a go for his second bid in the Senate after losing in the last elections.

Ermita named NEDA deputy director Augusto Santos as Recto’s successor.

Among the Cabinet secretaries who are eyeing various political positions in the coming elections include Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Avelino Razon, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Education chief Jesli Lapus, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Esperanza Cabral, Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane, Pagcor chief Ephraim Genuino, Presidential Management Staff chief Hermogenes Esperon, and Augusto Syjuco of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

Ermita said that Recto’s resignation takes effect August 16.

The Palace official said that he was rather caught flatfooted when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo mentioned in Recto’s briefing of the government’s economic resiliency program in Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting that it is the secretary’s valedictory briefing.

Ermita said that the Palace takes its hat off to Recto for his stewardship of the NEDA. Recto is reported to be eyeing a Senate comeback in the 2010 polls.

He also is leaving it up to Recto to decide his own fate and fortune, pointing out it will be up to him since it is his own personal interest that is at stake in next year’s elections.

Ermita reacted to reports that Recto is jumping ship with other political parties to ensure victory since he is already a seasoned politician.

For his part, Santos brushed aside insinuations that Recto quit because of a supposed word war with Reyes over high prices of fuel.

He said he is ready to take over NEDA once Recto’s resignation takes effect, vowing to continue “reforms” put in place by Recto.

Santos reiterated that the country has very little chance of entering a recession, at least until the 2010 elections, adding that the country had experienced some degree of growth while the rest of the world was in recession.