No extra powers for Palace chief of staff

(UPDATE) PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has turned down proposals to assign additional powers to the revived Office of the Presidential Chief of Staff (Opcos), which will be headed by resigned executive secretary Victor Rodriguez.

Press Secretary Rose Beatrix “Trixie” Cruz-Angeles said in a statement released last Saturday night that on the recommendation of Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile, the President disapproved of a draft of a special order giving additional functions to the chief of staff.

Press Secretary Rose Beatrix “Trixie” Cruz-Angeles PHOTO BY J. GERARD SEGUIA

Press Secretary Rose Beatrix “Trixie” Cruz-Angeles PHOTO BY J. GERARD SEGUIA

Rodriguez resigned as executive secretary Saturday following the imbroglio over the importation of sugar. He had the briefest stint of being an executive secretary having served in that position for more than two months.

Among the duties for the chief of staff included in the draft order is the authority to sign contracts and issue directives to various government agencies, duties which Rodriguez wields as executive secretary.

Instead, the PCS will have “the primary function of supervising and ensuring the efficient and responsive day-to-day operational support to the presidency to enable the President to focus on strategic national concerns,” Cruz-Angeles said.

“In a nutshell, the Opcos will serve as the coordination mechanism of the Office of the President. It will be in charge of the President's security monitoring system, which shall be responsible for providing regular situation reports to the President on a real-time basis,” she said.

“The Opcos will also supervise and coordinate closely with the PMS [Presidential Management Staff] as the primary government agency directly responsible for providing substantive staff assistance in the presidential exercise of the overall management of the development process,” she added.

Last week, Enrile issued a five-page document objecting to the provisions in the draft SO.

The provisions include the authority to “sign and approve memoranda, administrative issuances and instruments, contracts, and administrative and financial documents;” “implement instructions for the efficient and effective operations of departments, agencies and offices,” and “implement policies and standards for the efficient and effective operations of the Office of the President and its attached agencies.”

According to the 98-year-old former Senate president, the powers overlap with the duties and functions of other offices under the executive branch such as the Office of the Executive Secretary, the PMS, and Office of the Special Assistant to the President.

He also argued that, traditionally, the Palace chief of staff has no expansive authority and “merely assists the President on routine daily functions, including preparing briefers for meetings, organizing and filing documents, and arranging the schedule of the President.”

“There is no need to create a position of the Presidential Chief of Staff, much less grant it so much power,” Enrile said in his memorandum.

Cruz-Angeles said Rodriguez will coordinate closely with presidential advisers and assistants, who will in turn course their reports to the President through him, copies of which will be submitted to the next executive secretary.

Atty Victor Rodriguez- Dilan (7)

Atty Victor Rodriguez- Dilan (7)

In his resignation statement, Rodriguez cited his desire to devote more time to his family.

Days before he stepped down, rumors circulated that Rodriguez, who was Marcos' campaign manager in the last election, had a falling out with the President.

The Palace has yet to make an official announcement of who will replace Rodriguez as executive secretary.

There were reports that retired Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin was being considered, but Cruz-Angeles or any other Malacañang official refused to confirm or deny them.

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