Weekly cabinet meetings unproductive — Palace

PNS — PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III has held fewer than five full Cabinet meetings since taking office in June, and the reason is simply because he finds them unproductive, a Palace spokesman said over the weekend.

“Full Cabinet meetings are not productive,” said Secretary Ramon Carandang of the Palace communications group.

“Normally you would talk about different things… and many of the Cabinet secretaries who are not involved in the discussion are just sitting there doing nothing.”

Carandang said the President preferred to preside over Cabinet cluster meetings that were “more efficient.”

“Why should we waste everybody’s time when we can just meet in clusters?” he said.

“Any corporation will tell you it is not efficient to meet everyone at the same time. We are not going to do a full Cabinet meeting unless it is necessary. Otherwise, it is just for show.”

Mr. Aquino’s style compares with that of his predecessor, Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo, who convened full Cabinet meetings at least twice a month and cluster meetings every week.

Mrs. Arroyo allowed photo opportunities before the start of Cabinet meetings, which were held in the provinces at least once or twice a month to bring the members of the executive branch closer to the people.

Carandang said there were “a few instances when the entire Cabinet had to meet,” such as when they were preparing for the proposed 2011 General Appropriations Act.

The economic cluster met every week while the security cluster, otherwise known as Cluster E, met at least twice a week, Carandang said. The anti-poverty cluster met “less often.”

Carandang said it was unfair to compare the way Mr. Aquino was running his Cabinet with the way his predecessor did.

“Everybody has his or her own style. We have found it to be more efficient to meet by clusters,” he said.

Last week the entire Cabinet met, minus Mr. Aquino, to discuss administrative matters.

Carandang said one of the decisions arrived at during the meeting was to designate the Presidential Management Staff as the repository of all internal communication reports from the various departments.

“We will now have a regular internal reporting structure to ensure greater coordination among the various departments. The PMS will be the central repository of these reports,” he said.

Such a system would make it easier for Mr. Aquino’s communication group to deliver the messages that needed to be conveyed to the public.

Earlier, Senator Joker Arroyo criticized Mr. Aquino for running the government like a student council. Arroyo, who was executive secretary to Mr. Aquino’s mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, said the government was in a “hit and miss situation.”

But Carandang said Mr. Aquino’s 79-percent approval rating and 80-percent trust rating in the latest opinion polls showed that the people thought otherwise.

“I suppose our ratings are proof that not only are we able to get our message across, but that the Filipino people actually approve of the way we do things,” he said.