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Aquino names 25 new Cabinet members

First Posted 07:01:00 06/30/2010

MANILA-- President-elect Benigno ?Noynoy? Aquino III named former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr. as head of the newly formed Truth Commission that will put "closure on so many issues."

Another Cebuano, Jose Rene Almendras, was named energy secretary as the country's 15th President bared his much-awaited official family. He described the Cabinet as a balance of old and new faces that he cobbled together with the help of personal and political allies.

Both Davide, former United Nation ambassador, and Almendras, chief operating officer of Manila Water Co, accepted the posts.

Davide, however, was evasive about the role of the commission in the absence of an Executive Order detailing its tasks.

He declined to answer when he was asked if the commission would be investigating alleged anomalies under the administration of President Macapagal-Arroyo, whom he swore into office in 2001.

Davide told radio station dyLA that while the creation of the commission was announced by Aquino, its specific tasks have not yet been defined.

?I could not discuss any details now. I have to meet the people who will be with me,? he said.

Meanwhile, Aquino told reporters in Manila that the Truth Commission will ?prepare and prosecute? cases to make sure that those who committed crimes against the people will be made to pay.

He said the commission will not only go after all corruption allegations hurled at Arroyo but ?all issues.?

?This Truth Commission is the commission I promised the people we will set up to put closure on so many issues,? said Aquino.

?They will be collators of data, evidence, the proof as to who committed what and what transgression of our laws was committed,? he said.

?In turn with the active assistance of all agencies of the state especially the DOJ (Department of Justice), they will as necessary prepare and prosecute the cases to make sure those who committed crimes against the people will be made to pay,? he added.

Davide, who served for three years as Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations, was close to Aquino's mother, former president and democracy icon, Corazon Aquino.

Aquino appointed Davide thrice to various posts. The first was after the People Power revolution when Davide was named one of the 50 commissioners of the Constitutional Commission (Concom) in 1986. In 1988, he was appointed chairman of the Commission on Election (Comelec).

In 1991, Aquino appointed him Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. In November 1998, he was appointed Chief Justice by then president Joseph Estrada.

When he retired in 2005, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo named him senior presidential adviser on Electoral Reforms.

In February, Arroyo appointed him Permanent Representative of the Philippines in the United Nations based in New York.

Davide resigned in April this year to campaign for his son, Hilario III who ran for governor in Cebu, and for Aquino.

Another Cebuano is in the Cabinet as the new energy secretary.

Rene Almendras, 50, a senior executive with experience in finance, real estate and banking, could not say no to Aquino, a close friend and classmate in Ateneo de Manila, said his elderr sister Provincial Board Member Agnes Magpale.

She said the family was just concerned that the pressure of the job would take a toll on his health. Magpale said she had asked Rene not to accept the post since he had never served a government post before, and because ?the public could never be satisfied.?

?No doubt I will be the first to say that my brother deserves the trust of Noynoy. He is very capable. He has unquestioned integrity and dedication to work?, she added.

?Now that he has accepted, he has all the support from the family.?/Correspondent Jhunnex Napallacan and Inquirer

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