No opposition to Recto appointment to NEDA, but…

MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATE) For his former colleagues at the Senate, Ralph Recto is fit to head the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

But opposition stalwart and Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said that while Recto is “fully qualified,” an administration post “is not good for him and the nation.”

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita on Wednesday announced the appointment as NEDA chief of Recto, who will assume the post effective immediately.

Recto, the third losing administration candidate in the May 2007 polls given a post by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, replaced Augusto Santos, who will go back to his old post as deputy director general of the agency.

Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero said: “While I wish him well and without taking anything away from him, government is not an employment agency.”

He said he prefers that a career person to take the post previously occupied by now Social Security System chairman Romulo Neri.

Neri was NEDA chief when the botched $329-million national broadband network deal with China’s ZTE Corp. was initiated.

Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III said he hopes Recto will be true to his sworn oath to serve the people and not hide any similar wrongdoings in NEDA.

“Kung pareho lang na imbis gawin ang tungkulin ay taga-tago ng katotohanan ay wala rin silbi (If instead of doing his job, he will also be a hider of truth, then his appointment will not amount to anything),” he said.

During a Senate inquiry into the contract, Neri revealed that former elections chief offered him P200 million in exchange for his agreeing to convert the planned build-operate-transfer project into a loan transaction.

Asked if the President told him to proceed with the project despite his revelation of a bribe try, Neri refused to answer and cited executive privilege. This issue was raised before the Supreme Court.

Senate Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan, a fellow member of the Wednesday Club, wished Recto well.

“We wish him well. We hope his appointment will lead to a better working relationship between the Senate, the NEDA, and the executive department,” he said in a brief text message.

VERONICA UY
Philippine Daily Inquirer

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