ENRILE: PRESIDENTIAL CHIEF OF STAFF HAS NO POWER

Enrile said that by tradition, the Chief of Staff merely assists the President in routine daily functions, including preparing briefers for meetings, organizing, and filing documents, and arranging the schedule of the President.

September 17, 2022

The hunger for more power for the Presidential Chief of Staff by “beleaguered” Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez did not sit well with Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile.

This was contained in an “unofficial” Memorandum by Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. dated 15 September, shown by broadcaster Anthony Taberna in his Facebook vlog “Uncutunying” on 16 September.

“The Presidential Chief of Staff has no decision-making power, no signing powers, no review power, no power of supervision or control over any government department, agency, or office, and no power whatsoever to represent or act on behalf of the President,” Enrile’s memorandum read.

Enrile said that by tradition, the Chief of Staff merely assists the President in routine daily functions, including preparing briefers for meetings, organizing, and filing documents, and arranging the schedule of the President.

The memorandum, which was received by the Office of the President on the same day, was Enrile’s legal opinion on the following documents from Rodriguez: A Special Order titled “Granting Authority to the Presidential Chief of Staff”; and an Administrative Order “Creating the Office of the Presidential Chief of Staff and Rationalizing the System and Accountabilities in the Line and Staff Offices of the Office of the President.”

The 5-page memorandum, which Taberna reiterated as unofficial, was signed by Enrile, bearing his signature on each page, and had a ‘received stamp’ by the OP at around 2:14 p.m. of the same day.

The unsigned and undated SO and AO, however, had ES Rodriguez’ name as the signatory.

Reports circulated on Thursday that Rodriguez will be on his way out as ES and will be designated as President Marcos’ Chief of Staff. The former will allegedly be replaced by former Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin, according to an online news report.

Taberna, in his 14 September vlog, said a top Palace official was not invited to the “intimate” birthday dinner of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Tuesday.

The official was reportedly seen fuming after apparently being told not to enter the party venue nor his advance party after being advised that their boss was not on the guest list.

Taberna’s previous vlog said the buzz at the party was about the official once rumored to have resigned or forced to resign from the Cabinet.

Bersamin’s appointment was reportedly being seriously considered because of the controversies hounding the Palace official including the botched illegal attempt to import 300,000 metric tons of sugar through the Sugar Regulatory Administration’s Sugar Order 4.

Duplication, overlapping

Under the proposed AO and SO, the Office of the Presidential Chief of Staff will be effectively involved in governance, decision-making, and other affairs including appointments. The AO also proposes the following powers:

•Recommend to the President strategic directions…;

•Recommend critical and urgent presidential actions on national issues and concerns;

•Provide good, wise, and honest counsel on important matters of policy;

•Review papers for consideration, action, approval, and signature of the President;

•Advocate strategic policy and program initiatives of the President;

•Build and maintain bridges with key stakeholders such as other branches of government; and

•Attest executive orders and other presidential issuances.

The SO will also grant the Chief of Staff additional authority, as follows:

•Sign and approve memoranda, administrative issuances and instruments, contracts, and administrative and financial documents;

•Implement instructions for the efficient and effective operations of departments, agencies, and offices; and

•Implement policies and standards for the efficient and effective operations of the Office of the President and attached agencies.

Enrile’s memorandum said these powers have already been given to, and are already being exercised by other offices like the Office of Executive Secretary, {residential Management Staff, Office of the Special Assistant to the President, and his office.

The power to recommend to the President strategic directions, he said, is already being performed by various departments, National Economic Development Authority, and Cabinet clusters.

“The proposed AO/SO will cause unnecessary duplication and overlapping of functions, inconsistent with the right-sizing policy of the present administration,” the memorandum said.

It added: “There is no need to create the position of the Presidential Chief of Staff, much less grant it much power.”

Enrile’s memorandum also did not recommend the approval of the proposed AO and SO resurrecting the Presidential Chief of Staff as it will necessarily confuse and even inevitably rifts among the different offices under the OP.

The administrations of former presidents Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr., Joseph Estrada, and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo designated their own Chief of Staff.


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