MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino confirmed there will be some changes in his Cabinet but did not specify which positions would be affected.
One thing is clear: The President has no plans to replace Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario even if he had to assign Senator Antonio Trillanes as a backdoor negotiator with China to ease tensions over the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea.
Aquino said he is very happy with del Rosario’s performance, describing him as one his most hard-working and best performing Cabinet secretaries.
“I don’t agree with the dialogue that says it’s the Secretary of Foreign Affairs’ fault. This Secretary of Foreign Affairs is one of the hardest-working and best performing members of any Cabinet that exist in my memory,” he said.
The President thanked Trillanes for his services, saying there are no more current back-channeling efforts.
Sounding exasperated now to the repeated questioning on the same topic, the President again justified why he had to ask Trillanes to do the back channeling.
“You know I have answered that question many times,” Aquino said sighing.
He said back-channeling was a way to “transmit” the “real message” to China behind the escalating public pronouncements of the official channels.
“It was getting into a more and more heated exchange as opposed to resolving the issue and there were other avenues that were afforded us that could transmit the real messages or could be the conduit for the real messages as opposed to the hyped up exchange that was existing in media,” Aquino said.
The President declined to confirm reports that Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho “Icot” Petilla is being appointed to replace Energy Secretary Rene Almendras who is reportedly being moved to head the Presidential Management Staff.
The President said the changes in the Cabinet would be announced in the appropriate time.
“No changes in the Secretary of Foreign Affairs portfolio. There will be some cabinet changes. We will announce it in the appropriate time,” Aquino said.