MANILA (4th UPDATE) - Former Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan is joining the Aquino Cabinet, a Palace official confirmed Monday.
Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said Pangilinan will take his oath before President Benigno Aquino on Tuesday afternoon in Malacañang to assume a position with Cabinet rank.
Coloma said Pangilinan has been appointed as Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization.
He said Pangilinan's position is similar to former Sen. Ping Lacson's appointment. Hence, he will also hold the title of secretary.
He finished his second consecutive term as senator last year.
"It isn't easy leaving the simple farming life and the rural setting to rejoin government. Duty calls," he said on Twitter.
An ABS-CBN source earlier said Pangilinan met with the Aquino last week regarding a possible role in the Cabinet.
The source earlier said Pangilinan will supposedly oversee the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and the National Food Authority (NFA), which is currently under the Department of Agriculture.
Proceso Alcala, however, will stay on as agriculture chief.
The news comes on the heels of Alcala’s alleged role in the pork barrel scam as well as allegations of smuggling in the NFA.
The NIA is also beset with allegations of corruption.
Meanwhile, the same ABS-CBN News source claimed that defeated Cavite gubernatorial candidate Ayong Maliksi will also join the administration through the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
Alcala welcomes Pangilinan's appointment
Alcala on Monday said he welcomes Pangilinan's appointment.
This, despite the fact that it will result in transferring to Pangilinan the control of the NFA, NIA, and the Philippine Coconut Authority.
The agencies involve the major crops rice, corn, and coconut, and the all-important water supply.
"Welcome naman po sa atin yan. Napakalaki po ng Department of Agriculture. Makabubuti po na dalawa kaming magtulungan," Alcala said in a telephone interview.
Once perceived to be close to President Aquino, Alcala dismissed speculation he had fallen from grace.
"Napag-usapan naman po namin ang appointment ni Senator Pangilinan. Na-consult naman po tayo diyan," he said.
However, Alcala admitted he had failed to make good on some of his targets -- among these a promise to make the country self-sufficient in rice production by 2012. - with a report from Lynda Jumilla, ABS-CBN News