NEDA Chief Pernia resigned or fired?

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MANILA—While the country is grappling over the horrendous health, social and economic damage caused by Coronavirus-2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, the cabinet of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is shaken anew.

A few days back, majority of the senators led by Senate President Vicente Sotto III filed a resolution asking for the “immediate resignation” of the Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III for alleged “failure of leadership, negligence, lack of foresight, and inefficiency in the performance of his duties”, and many more accusations, in addressing the Covid-19 crisis in the country.

On Friday, April 17, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia finally announced his resignation from his post due to “personal reasons” and intriguingly, “differences in development philosophy” with some members of the cabinet. 

Sec. Penia was among the first cabinet officials appointed by President-elect Rodrigo Duterte on July 2016 to head the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), a very important position in the Duterte administration charged to stir the country’s economy under its agenda for change.

In a statement furnished to the members of the media, the 76-year-old cabinet official said “After reflection during Holy Week, and consultations with my family and close colleagues, I have decided to resign from my post as Secretary of Socioeconomic Planning. This is due partly to personal reasons and partly to differences in development philosophy with a few of my fellow Cabinet members.”

During a meeting with the cabinet Tuesday, Pernia told the media that NEDA was working on measures of a “new normal” or post-Covid-19 scenario to revive the confidence of consumers and business community after the crisis.  

The secretary further said, “We’re still with phase one: rebuilding consumer confidence; phase two: restoring business optimism; phase three: adapting to a new normal—recover as one. There will be a dashboard for each phase. Phase one dashboard to be completed on April 16.”

Under his leadership, NEDA was able to craft the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022 towards our country’s Ambisyon Natin 2040, and pursued in evaluating and reviewing flagship infrastructure projects for approval by the NEDA Board, which is chaired by the president himself.

Late last week, rumors were ripe that the NEDA chief would be axed by the president, a report which the secretary denied. He thanked the president for his appointment and said “It has been an honor and privilege to have served the country under his administration for the past nearly four years.” 

On the other hand, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said Duterte has accepted Pernia’s resignation and announced that Finance Undersecretary Karl Kendrick Chua will serve as acting NEDA chief.

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