Should Jojo Ochoa take a non-existent hint?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-11-13

My friend Ramon Tulfo of the other noteworthy paper wrote a column last October 31 titled “Can’t Ochoa take a hint?” It was a clear broadside against Executive Secretary (ES) Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa. Mon erroneously stated that the Office of the President (OP) now has two executive secretaries and that Jojo Ochoa should therefore take the hint and resign.

It’s not the first time that Mon Tulfo got his facts wrong. We could allow him that. We too could become victims of suppliers of false information. First and foremost, there was no such situation that the Cabinet Secretary, the post Rene Almendras had assumed, and the Executive Secretary had overlapping functions. All one has to do is check the comparative functions of the offices of the Executive Secretary, the Cabinet Secretary and the Head of the PMS (Presidential Management Staff).


Executive Secretary: ADMINISTRATIVE

Responsive to the specific needs and requirements of the President

Cabinet Secretary: POLICY

Integration and implementation of the programs of the Administration


Directly responsible to the OP for providing staff assistance in the Presidential exercise of overall management of the development process


Executive Secretary: Assists the President in the management of government affairs. Implement presidential directives, orders and decisions. Decide on matters not requiring personal presidential attention.

Cabinet Secretary: Identifies priority areas and targets in the Social Contract and PDP 2011-2016. Recommend an annual performance and projects roadmap. Ensure timely execution and monitor impact of the targets under roadmap

PMS: Provide technical assistance and advice directly to the President in exercising overall management of the development process. Analyze and monitor national programs and projects. Formulate and implement development management information systems and programs that will include upgrading OP’s computer and communications technology.

The Office of the Cabinet Secretary wasn’t created yesterday in order to give ES Jojo Ochoa a hint. In the first place, there was no hint at all that had been thrown by President Benigno S. Aquino III (P-Noy) towards the direction of Jojo Ochoa. On a job as important and sensitive as that of the ES, P-Noy will have a heart-to-heart talk with Jojo Ochoa if there’s a need for a new ES.

In the eyes of P-Noy, Jojo Ochoa has been doing a yeoman’s job, especially when it comes to shepherding the political coalition supporting his administration. Many of Jojo Ochoa’s other accomplishments are unheralded and the sensitivity of these matters had suggested that they best remain unheralded. There may have been instances when we could say that ES Ochoa could have done a better job, but overall his merits outnumber his demerits.

The Liberal Party to which P-Noy belongs is a minority in both the House and the Senate. P-Noy could not have accomplished what he did if not for the expanded coalition — larger than the Liberal Party‑Akbayan coalition — Speaker Sonny Belmonte and Executive Secretary Jojo Ochoa assembled. That gave P-Noy majority numbers in the House and the Senate. Both gentlemen do not herald their accomplishments but if not for this expanded coalition — there would have been no 20-3 Renato C. Corona conviction. If not for this expanded coalition, the administration bills would have been stalled.

More than anything else, the revival of the Office of the Cabinet Secretary was necessitated by the desire of the president to hasten important projects that would form part of his legacy. Rene has been given a very specific mandate to integrate and implement the programs of the administration. His is purely a staff function while those of the Executive Secretary and PMS are line functions. The delineation between staff function and line function should have debunked all notions and planted mischief of wanting Jojo Ochoa out.

If there’s an office that “lost” some functions to the Cabinet Secretary, it’s that of the PMS. The marching orders of Almendras placed under him PMS offices that are related to policy direction and coordination. Still, there is no actual loss of function because secretaries Almendras and Julia Abad will jointly operate these offices.

What’s true is that from Day 1 of the P-Noy administration, Jojo Ochoa has been targeted. Jojo happened to be occupying a very important job that some people coveted. They only ceased their attacks against Ochoa when they realized that P-Noy was on to them and should not be forced to make tough choices had they persisted in attacking Jojo Ochoa. They totally miscalculated the character of the president. They thought that he could be forced to fire his most trusted appointees if they were to become too controversial, albeit with lies and baseless innuendoes.  

The Office of the Executive Secretary is of such a confidential and sensitive nature and P-Noy is the type who places a premium on comfort zones when filling such positions. Serious about his DAANG MATUWID (straight path) legacy, P-Noy feels that only those whose hearts and minds rhyme with his could be trusted to share in this great endeavor.

Under Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras hopes are high that P-Noy’s Social Contract with the Filipino People and the Philippine Development Plan, 2011-2016 would be accomplished. We should give Rene Almendras our full support.

* * *

Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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