2 Aquino sisters in Cabinet search committee

Posted at 05/21/10 9:02 PM

MANILA, Philippines (1st UPDATE) - Incoming President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III has already formed a search committee to select members of his Cabinet.

The members of the committee, according to ABS-CBN sources, include Aquino's sisters, Ballsy Aquino Cruz and Pinky Aquino Abellada, former Civil Service Commission chair Karina David, Makati Business Club executive director Alberto Lim, and Aquino's chief of staff, Julia Abad.

Julia is also the daughter of Liberal Party campaign manager, Florencio "Butch" Abad, who's reportedly being eyed to become Aquino's education secretary.

None of them has confirmed the accuracy of the list, but Abad admitted the job was indeed offered to his wife, Dina. However, she rejected the offer since she also won as representative of Batanes.

Abad's daughter Julia will join the search committee, but she will only perform administrative functions. Julia is Aquino's chief of staff. 

ABS-CBN News showed Abad a list of possible appointees that are circulating through text messages:

Bong Naguiat - Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) chairman

Jojo Ochoa - Executive Secretary

Dinky Soliman - Department of Social Welfare and Development secretary

Margie Juico - Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) chairman

Philip "Popoy" Juico - Department of Agrarian Reform secretary

Cesar Purisima - Department of Finance secretary

Avelino Cruz - Department of Justice secretary

Florencio Abad - Department of Education secretary.

The list includes close friends of the Aquino family, individuals who campaigned for Aquino, and former government officials.

Only Soliman has confirmed that she was offered the post and that she had accepted it.

Abad said he has not been offered the post, but he is willing to work for Aquino.

Abad said only Aquino can officially announce his new Cabinet.

He said the appointments should be ready by July 1 after Aquino is sworn into office.

Soliman, Purisima, Cruz, and Abad had served in the early years of the Arroyo government in the social welfare, finance, defense, and education departments, respectively.

Juico served for a while as Department of Agrarian Reform secretary during the Corazon Aquino administration. His wife, Margie, was Mrs. Aquino's appointments secretary.

Soliman, Purisima and Abad were part of the so-called Hyatt-10 who had asked President Arroyo to resign in 2005 after she admitted and apologized for talking to an election commissioner linked to cheating in the 2004 presidential elections.

They later joined the opposition to the Arroyo administration, and then backed the presidential bids of Aquino and Sen. Manuel "Mar" Roxas II. -- with reports from Jing Castañeda; ANC