Aquino swears in new Cabinet

Posted at 06/30/2010 3:58 PM | Updated as of 06/30/2010 3:58 PM

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III on Wednesday led around 30 members of his Cabinet in taking their oaths of office during a swearing-in ceremony at the Rizal Hall in Malacañang Palace.

Aquino administered the oath of office for the Cabinet past 3 p.m.

Among those who took their oaths were Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., Education Secretary Armin Luistro, Agriculture chief Proceso Alcala, Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and many others. (Click here for list of Cabinet members.)

After the oath-taking, Aquino will meet with the Cabinet at the Aguinaldo State Dining Room to issue his first marching orders for the new administration.

Several groups have equally praised and criticized Aquino's choices for his official family, which is composed mostly of technocrats and career officials.

Tony La Viña, dean of the Ateneo School of Government, praised Aquino for choosing Leila de Lima for the justice department and reinstating Teresita Ging-Deles as presidential adviser on the peace process.

Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER), voiced reservation over the appointment of Rene Almendras as energy secretary and former Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide as head of a truth commission that will investigate Arroyo.

"It could've been better," Casiple says of the Cabinet line-up. "Some of them seem temporary- or continuity-appointments. I would agree these are competent people, but it remains to be seen how they will implement the programs of the new president."

The militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan slammed the retention of Romulo as foreign affairs secretary, noting that the latter authorized the transfer of convicted rapist US Marine Daniel Smith from the Makati City Jail to the US embassy.

“Romulo’s appointment seems to be based on his support for Aquino during the campaign. His track record however shows he did not uphold national interests while in the DFA,” he added.

The group said the appointment of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima could result in the continuation of the onerous taxation done under President Arroyo.

It said some Cabinet appointees were representatives of big business such as Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim who is with the Makati Business Club; Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras who is the former president of the Ayala-owned Manila Water, and Transportation and Communication secretary Jose “Ping” de Jesus who is the former president and chief operating officer of electricity distributor Meralco and also former PLDT executive vice president.

“The Cabinet appointments are a reflection of the policy direction that the new administration will take. Some of the appointments don’t give much hope for change. Some appointments indicate that we will be getting more of the same from the past regime,” the group said.