Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Joint Cabinet meeting to clear air on government data

Written by Mia M. Gonzalez
Business Mirror

THE planned joint Cabinet meeting between the incoming and outgoing administrations will give incumbent officials a chance to validate government data and figures that are being questioned by the next leadership, Malacañang said on Monday.

Presidential Management Staff (PMS) head Ma. Elena Bautista-Horn, spokesman of the government transition team, said in a news briefing the Arroyo administration looks forward to the joint meeting, which the incoming administration has agreed to.

“I’m very happy that it will take place. . . . We’ve heard that they have been questioning our data, and I think a joint Cabinet meeting will be the right avenue to really discuss all the statistics. If they have certain questions, it will be the proper forum to validate and confirm the data that we have already disseminated to the public,” Bautista-Horn said.

She said the data previously released by the government and that of the incoming administration seem to have some discrepancies, and the joint Cabinet meeting will be a “good opportunity to clarify, once and for all,” such data.

Bautista-Horn said no date and venue for the meeting, to be presided by President Arroyo, has been set.

The PMS chief also revealed plans to have a small “get-together” among Cabinet officials on the final Cabinet meeting working day of the administration on June 29. She said the Cabinet meeting will be “short,” consisting of a summary of reports to be given to the next administration, followed by the get-together with the President.

Challenge of reconciliation

Meanwhile, she said one of the challenges facing President-elect Benigno Aquino III is forging national reconciliation, which would require him to be more “consultative” and to reach out to all groups, especially his political rivals and critics.

Bautista-Horn made the statement when asked to comment on reports that Armed Forces Chief Gen. Delfin Bangit was allegedly hurt by the announcement of the incoming leadership about his impending replacement without first informing him about it.

“One of the challenges of the President-elect is to be consultative. If you are President, you are the President of the entire nation. You are not just the President of your friends, relatives and supporters. You are also President of your enemies and critics,” Bautista-Horn said.

The Aquino administration’s “first test” is “how they will reach out to all the different camps in the community and in the country.” In this respect, it would pay to go on a “consultative mode,” she added.

She thinks it is understandable for Bangit to be hurt by the announcement of his possible replacement, as he only learned about it through the media.

On allegations that President Arroyo should be faulted for Bangit’s dilemma—as she chose to appoint him instead of extending the term of former AFP Chief Gen. Victor Ibrado—Bautista-Horn said the matter should not be politicized, especially as it involves an institution like the AFP, which has its own policies and procedures.

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