Defensor named to bank board

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — Former presidential chief of staff Michael Defensor will get a corporate job as member of the board of directors of the United Coconut Planters Bank, an administration source said yesterday.

The source said Defensor will represent private stockholders in the UCPB, where the government holds substantial stake in the form of sequestered shares of stock purchased through the coconut levy.

Defensor lost his senatorial bid in the May 14 elections as a candidate of the administration Team Unity. Under the Election Code, a defeated candidate cannot be appointed to any government post within one year after the election.

But since the UCPB is a private entity, his designation as board member of the bank is not covered by the ban.

After losing the vice presidential election in May 1998, Senator Edgardo Angara was named chairman of the board of the Philippine National Bank within one month after the polls.

At that time, the government owned substantial shares in the PNB although it had already been privatized.

Meanwhile, outgoing Commission on Higher Education Chairman Carlito Puno has declined a Palace offer to appoint him chairman of a corporation.

The job offer was made through Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Joaquin Llagonera following the decision of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to replace Puno with National Economic and Development Authority director general Romulo Neri.

Carlito, brother of Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno, did not say which corporation he was being appointed to. But a Palace source revealed that this was the United Coconut Chemicals.

“Undersecretary Llagonera talked to me, offering the chairmanship of a government corporations. I told him if I would be removed from CHED, that’s okay because that is a presidential prerogative. But I am not accepting any other government position,” he said on radio.

Puno said he was told by Llagonera to keep the name of the corporation in confidence because its incumbent chairman did not know yet that he would be replaced.

He admitted that he felt offended about the manner with which his removal from CHED was handled. He said he learned that he would be replaced by Neri only in the media.

But Puno said he would not yet step down from his post since his successor does not yet have a signed appointment.

A Palace official, who declined to be named, said Puno should not be surprised anymore about the appointment of his successor since his term as CHED chairman had expired and he is merely on a holdover capacity.

Puno was appointed CHED chairman to serve the unexpired term of Bro. Rolando Dizon, which ended in July 2006.

Neri has been tasked by the President to implement drastic reforms in tertiary education by matching the school curriculum with the manpower and skills requirements of industries and businesses.

But Puno pointed out that this is already being done by CHED for the past three years. He said this explained why new college entrants were required to undergo aptitude test. “Problems like this cannot be solved overnight. But little by little you can solve it and improve the situation.”

Puno added that CHED allocated P1 billion three years ago for faculty development to strengthen English, science, and mathematics instruction.